CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Patrick Kelly, an AP U.S. Government Teacher at Blythewood High School, will be focusing on the voices of his students to teach them about the January 6th Capitol Insurrection.
A year after protesters who denied the results of the 2020 election stormed the United States Capitol Building, Kelly’s current curriculum involves teaching his students about Congress.
“We’re going to look at the way Congress was reacting to the election of 2020 through congressional design and look at the differences of how the House handled it and how the Senate handled it,” said Kelly. “(The insurrection) is so relevant to our content. But we need to teach in a way that is connected to our content and within state standards.”
He will also give students time to reflect on the insurrection.
“I’m going to ask them to write about what they remember and what stands out to them from the day. Not for graded purposes and not to share publicly,” said Kelly.
Kelly’s students will not only focus on Congress, but on what is needed for a democratic society to thrive.
“We’re going to look at if those conditions continue to be strong in the aftermath of January 6th,” said Kelly. “It’s going to be grounded in an analysis of quotes from Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Mitch McConnell from the Senate floor on the night of January 6th.”
Kelly says that he will have a class discussion in his lesson plan, an idea that Citadel professor Dr. Christopher Dauge thinks is necessary for topics like the Capitol Insurrection.
“It’s not just about direct instruction,” said Dr. Dauge. “Our view of the world is not always the same as theirs. Our job is to help them better understand their view and understand how their view is going to impact their future democratic lives.”
But, class deliberation requires a few things to function well according to Dr. Dauge.
“The biggest thing that I think students and teachers need to know is that this is not a debate. There’s no points awarded, there’s no side that’s going to win,” said Dr. Dauge.
Kelly’s goal is not solely direct instruction, but to have his students own the discussion so they can learn to be active and engaged citizens.
“Democracy demands of its citizens the capacity to process, discuss and debate hard topics. If we don’t give students the opportunity to develop those skills and exercise those democratic muscles in a school environment then they’re going to be ill-equipped to exercise those muscles as citizens,” said Kelly.