George Washington’s Rules of Civility in the Age of COVID-19

In 1745, a young George Washington copied down a set of rules in his workbook. His aim was to learn how to properly conduct himself in society. He took his examples from the writings of a 16th-century Jesuit priest. The rules Washington recorded still resonate today as we learn how to navigate the health crisis the world is now facing while trying to maintain civil behavior.

Dolley Madison as a Model for Our Times

This very short video highlights the alternative that Dolley Madison offered to the rowdy, rambunctious, and violent world of politics in her time. Professor Catherine Allgor suggests that Dolley’s preference for civility and empathy; for cooperation over coercion; and for building bridges and not bunkers is a useful model for our times.

Grades 9-12
Citizenship
Video

How to Have a Civil Civic Conversation

Filmed on a Constituting America Winner Mentor Trip, five young ladies share their thoughts on how to agree to disagree and how to have a discussion and still remain friends. Through personal experience these students have learned a lifelong lesson. Enjoy learning their lessons while you discuss yours. When watching you will see each person’s name, title and number. The number is their age. The title is the contest area they won in the We the Future contest. Check out the website for the contest information. Who knows maybe soon you will see your talent on the Civics Renewal Network and Constituting America!

Grades 6-12
Citizenship
Interactives

Constitution Day Across the Country

Various free, downloadable lessons across grades K through 12 to facilitate providing educational programs on Constitution Day. These interactive lessons teach about the development and evolution of the U.S. Constitution. Students are able to express themselves through discussion and debates while engaging in various activities.

Grades K, 11, 1, 12, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Rights and Responsibilities
Audio

Rules, Rules, Rules

In this lesson, students are asked to play a game – passing an object, such as an eraser – in which the rules are unclear and keep changing. Students are then asked to actively reflect on when and why rules are important and necessary. The leader might then connect rules of the game to the rule of law, and discuss the importance of law in our communities and in our society.

Mediation and the Adversarial Process

Students are first asked to resolve a hypothetical case via the adversary process. Each student is assigned the role of plaintiff, defendant, or judge. The plaintiff and defendant argue their case in turn, and the judge renders a decision. Students are then asked to reflect on the resolution. They are then instructed to resolve the same case via mediation, and to compare the two methods of dispute resolution.

Civic Conversations

How do educators invest in productive, deep, and transformative dialogue in their classrooms? Civic Conversations is a collaboration between the Kennedy Institute’s civic education programming and the community-building dialogic structure practiced by Essential Partners. Explore resources, activities, and lesson structures that support educators as they facilitate difficult conversations, create inclusive learning environments, raise complex discussions, and promote a safe space for students to consider their values and engage in their communities.

Civic Conversations

How do educators invest in productive, deep, and transformative dialogue in their classrooms? Civic Conversations is a collaboration between the Edward M. Kennedy Institute’s civic education programming and the community-building dialogic structure practiced by Essential Partners. Explore resources, activities, and lesson structures that support educators as they facilitate difficult conversations, create inclusive learning environments, raise complex discussions, and promote a safe space for students to consider their values and engage in their communities. Policy simulations at the Kennedy Institute reflect the wide range of issues that face our country today. Students debate the best way to reform our immigration system, consider the balance between privacy and security, and think about how to meet the challenge of climate change. As in the real Senate, it’s natural that students will disagree on the best approach to many civic issues. This collection of resources will support educators as they prepare to discuss civic issues, either in preparation for a Kennedy Institute field trip or to practice listening, sharing, and learning in the classroom.

Grades 6-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Modules (Teaching Unit)