New Social Studies Focus: Civic Mindedness (Grades 5 - 12)

We have created a new program which focuses on civic mindedness and which explores the rights and duties of individuals in a community. The program uses Whitman’s poems as a starting point for discussion at the Birthplace. Walt’s America was new and full of possibilities as an inclusive and diverse country which required, in Walt’s view, democratic participation of all individuals. Back in the classroom, students may work on a civic action that relates to the program.

Civic Mindedness

Students will watch a 10-minute video about Whitman’s pioneering poetry,celebrated worldwide for its democratic outlook and new, distinctly American style.

Students read The Sleepers, O Democracy, and I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman and discuss the concepts of empathy, democracy, and civic mindedness. Students discover that we have a responsibility to everyone in the community, especially to those who do not possess a voice. Students write a poem about various people in their lives and neighborhood in the model ofWhitman’s poems. Students tour the authentic 19th c. farmhouse in which Walt Whitman was born and may view the updated timeline exhibit panels which depict the journey of Walt from his birth to his first publication ofLeaves of Grass in 1855.

Upon conclusion of the program, the discussion may continue in the class- room as curriculum and resources will be shared with the teachers, reinforcing their historic site visit. Students discuss how the United States government at all levels has structures to allow them to fulfill the functions of making, enforcing, and interpreting laws. Students create a list of their local representatives and newspapers, how to contact them, and their functions. They identify a local problem/issue/person that needs their help and draft a letter discussing support of an issue or asking for a solution to a problem. Letters are shared among the class, mailed, and any replies will be shared to see the impact.

Estimated time: 2.5 hours
Monday – Friday ........................Minimum Fee $150

To register for the program, contact Dr. Kelly Ronayne at 631-427-5240, ext. 113 or email educator@waltwhitman.org

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