Many years ago, I taught a civics lesson to a class of third graders, but I am the one who received instruction. Our unit was on government and since we were in the midst of an election cycle our class held an election for class president.
I wrote about the outcome in an email I sent to Don’s aunt who sent it to some friends and it eventually wound up all over the place with added photos and observations, Several months ago I opened an email from a friend and there was my civics lesson!
To make a long story short, our class nominated two solid candidates who campaigned for a few days (which was plenty of time) with posters and slogans they created.
On the day of the election both candidates gave a speech. The first student promised to make our room a better place. He proposed additional trash cans and to name a team of students to encourage tidiness and discourage littering.
He had some other good ideas and his speech drew an enthusiastic round of applause.
The second candidate‘s speech was short and to the point. She stated that if the class voted for her, she would give them ice cream. The excited students showed their pleasure with shouts and clapping. She thanked her supporters and sat down.
The students voted and the ice cream candidate won by a land slide.
We then discussed the outcome and here’s what I learned: They wanted ice cream and didn’t care who paid for it.
As it turned out the student elected president didn’t have the money for the ice cream and she couldn’t get her mother to ante up either (she said she needed her money for rent and gas); so each student wound up paying for his/her own ice cream.
In her desire to win, the elected candidate had made a promise she couldn’t keep.
In her journal Mother wrote, “Great leaders put the best interest of the “followers” above their own. Making decisions only for yourself will backfire and cause you to lose more than if you had kept the welfare of others in mind.”
Tomorrow is Election Day and I hope our president will be the one who has our country’s best interest in mind and that his election won’t be based on the promise of ice cream.