Who’d have thought it’d be fun to spend two mornings studying the constitution? I’m in San Diego at one of the We The People: The Citizen & The Constitution teacher institutes (from the Center for Civic Education), looking for ways technology might support this activity, to either make it more efficient, more effective, or broaden the reach.
Susan Leeson, a former Oregon Supreme Court Justice and expert in political theory and public law has been riveting in bringing to life the context in which the US Constitution struggled to be born. Far from a miracle, it almost didn’t happen. Documenting the personal and political intrigues, she also communicates the philosophical tensions that led to the document that has governed this nation for more than 200 years.
It’s quite clear that you couldn’t replace her, and any experience would have to find different ways to develop the understanding. Personal passion, personal presence, and effective pedagogy trump anything else you can do. Note that it’s interactive, not a monologue, but her ability to bring it alive, make it a story, and connect it to the context and causes, is a powerful lesson for moving from our tendency to teach this as a set of facts (3 branches of government, checks and balances, etc). Much as I can imagine a compelling game that let you role play this would be a strong second, hearing her would be my first choice.
So I guess my real task is to figure out what to do if and when we can’t have her! Which is, of course, is probably as it should be.