U.S. Government and Civics Mission Statement

After my first year teaching I found that I lacked a sense of cohesion that connected the first unit to the last unit. I am retired military (21+ years) and drawing on that background came to realize that I needed a mission statement with approaches and objectives in the hopes that this will strengthen my teaching for next year.

Mission Statement:
The mission of the  high school United States government class is to instruct students in the “principles of freedom”[1] by providing them a historical perspective on the founding documents of the United States and how those documents are translated into a functioning government. In so doing, we hope to mold students into “well informed” citizens so that “they can be trusted with their own government”[2]

Approach and Objectives:
My approach is based on supporting the school’s interests as articulated by the County School Board and the State Department of Education. These various entities share mutual interests in promoting student education. In support of these interests this class will adhere to certain curriculum standards. Additionally, these organizations seek to provide a safe, secure, structured, and disciplined environment where this unique population of students can receive an appropriate education.

As an education professional, it is my responsibility to support these standards. To this end, I believe these umbrella objectives will guide my efforts throughout the course of instruction:

  • How freedoms are assured in our government
  • Define who is an American
  • Explore the balance between state and federal authority
  • Evaluate how the Constitution affects our daily lives
  • Determine what effect the Constitution has on our economy
  • Investigate the limits of presidential power
  • Consider what is a fair, more perfect union[3]

Specifically, this class will offer a variety of strategies in support of these standards. To this end, it is my responsibility to provide students with the opportunity to explore and examine the United States government. I will offer students the opportunity to: read multiple accounts and perspectives, analyze primary sources (in the form of newspapers and news video clips), understand historical content, examine source information, and use evidence to support claims[4].

In order to fulfill the mission statement, and to achieve the goals and objectives, it is also necessary to ensure students are able to perform basic skills. These include, but are not limited to, the following: the ability to think critically and with a historically perspective; the ability to take notes properly, study material presented in class, research and interpret primary and secondary sources, and finally the ability to write and present an analysis and evaluation of those sources[5].

[1] Adams, John. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1856). 10 volumes. Vol 6. Chapter: Chapter Third.: Marchamont Nedham. Errors of Government and Rules of Policy.
[2] Jefferson, Thomas. Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, Jan 8, 1789. Letter. From Library of Congress, The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Series I. General Correspondence. 1651 – 1827. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page010.db&recNum=743
[3] Fineman, Howard. The thirteen American arguments : enduring debates that define and inspire our country. New York: Random House, 2008.
[4] National History Education Clearinghouse. Accessed May 27, 2011. http://teachinghistory.org/13.
[5] Godin, Seth. “What’s high school for?.” Accessed June 5, 2011. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/05/whats-high-school-for.html.

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