RACELAND Ryan Biederman is a Social Studies teacher at Raceland-Worthington Middle School. Biederman said he wanted to show his students how government works on a local level with local residents, and thought it would be another way to engage his students to learn.
After clearing the field trip with Raceland-Worthingtons principal and securing permissions slips from the parents, Biederman brought his class to the Greenup County Courthouse where they we able to sit in on a fiscal court meeting and speak with other members of local government.
One of the cool things we got at the court meeting that you cant get in the classroom is that the Constitution came alive, Biederman said.
The Raceland-Worthington students were present for the recent discussion and passage of a resolution by the fiscal court concerning the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms. Biederman said in his classroom they drew comparisons to when King George III was attempting to disarm the colonists.
We had this discussion, and of course my role as a teacher is to never give my personal opinion,Biederman said. Its my job to ask them questions to help them think; that way the students learn to form their own opinions.
Biederman said the students reactions during the fiscal court meeting as they followed both the lawmakers and the residents who attended the meeting and voiced their opinions demonstrated to him that the field trip was a success.
It was obvious they were following the speakers, Biederman said. And you could see the reactions on their faces. Many of them (the students) had formed strong opinions of their own before we walked in there.
Biederman said after the meeting the class discussed the outcome, and most were pleased with it. Some of them were as emotionally engaged as the residents who spoke, he said.
The experience was successful, Biederman said, and had the desired impact on his students.
History can be difficult to teach, he admitted. And I am all about practicality, and how things apply in real world settings. You couldnt get more practical than what they learned there at the court.
We talk about current events throughout the entire year, and often follow spirited discussions on some topics,he added. But one thing I try to stress to my students is that you can disagree with someone without hating them. I believe we have gone away from that, and I tell them that hopefully their generation can correct that problem.
Another major takeaway from the field trip was seeing first-hand an example of another topic the class had discussed.
The students learned you could communicate with your government, Biederman said. And that governments are to serve the people, so they need to and want to hear from the people. And in order to be a responsible citizen we should all want to be interactive with our government.
When we got back to school, we discussed some of the rights that were being practiced in the courtroom. And one of those rights was the First Amendment. Many people there were peacefully assembling and petitioning the government and exercising that right.
Biederman said he and the students believe the field trip was a success and that they look forward to other subsequent field trips in the future.
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