Friday, December 18, 2009


I was teaching the Federalist Papers in class the last couple of days before Christmas Break. We were discussing Federalist #10 and #51, both probably written by James Madison. I say probably because while Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay admitted being the writers of the essays, titled "Publius," the authenticated authorship of each essay is still questionable.

I love the fact that my students were able to grasp these two essays because they are smart and now, well educated. Who knew. I thought I would quote from Federalist 51, my favorite of all the essays, in this post.

Oddly enough, the students were very interested in this passage as proof that our government needs to be vigilantly tended to at all times. These students, my students, will be vigilant about government because they are critical thinkers and they care about their future. Here is the passage they picked to be on this blog:

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government.

I love being a teacher and at times like this I am amazed at the intelligence of my students. I think we'll be in good hands if the colleges they attend don't screw them up.


Oso said...

From time to time over the last few years as I've tried to self-educate I find certain books I read have been used as textbooks in certain classes.
I reflect on NOW how much fun it would be to have a class in Poli Sci or Economics or what you teach and be able to get feedback on my questions in real time.
I've heard it said that youth is wasted on the young,in my case it certainly was in some respects.
Maybe when I retire.

Let me ask you a question. I work with right wingers,I don't mean fiscal conservative/small govt guys-I have much in common with those folks,rather they are Birther guys who just talk louder if I try to debate.

I know there are just as many lefty "Bush was behind 9/11" types so that's not my point.

These guys all say college teachers force a leftist agenda on their students.I think that the majority of liberal arts students who became teachers are liberal but I believe the vast majority are professionals who teach without pushing their agenda. At least I've never noticed it.

I would imagine the school administrations would enforce compliance with teaching standards?

Any thoughts on this ?

Law and Order Teacher said...

You are talking about professionals who teach the curriculum without a slant and let their students supply their own slant. I have seen teachers who are on both sides of the spectrum.

Most teach the curriculum straight up without spin. I've seen those who can't resist a personal spin on their teaching that seeks to indoctrinate a point. I've had professors of both ilks.

Some are aggressive in their indoctrination and young students are hesitant to confront them. I was older when I began my college education and I wasn't encumbered by any reticence in confronting some of these guys.

They didn't like me much but they were on my dime, I wasn't on theirs. My question to you is what's stopping you from taking a class or two.

Community colleges cater to the older students with night and weekend classes. I would encourage you to get in the school life. You'd would enjoy it and benefit from it. Thanks for the visit.

Oso said...

Thanks.That's kind of what I expected to hear,I think most teachers pursue the profession out of dedication and would approach it as professionals.

Funny you should mention taking a community college course,a catalog came in the mail yesterday which I tossed in the recycling box.I'll dig it out and have a glance.

One thought holds me back-if I was too dumb to think of something this obvious, how well could I do in school ???

Law and Order Teacher said...

I think you would be surprised to find that learning is like riding a bike. You have picked-up all kinds of knowledge throughout your life that really applies well to school. The younger students respect the older ones, at least that's my experience. Some government, foreign policy, or history would really wet your appetite. Go for it.

Leslie Parsley said...

Oso, there all also online classes but you don't get the give and take you do in actually going to school. It took me ten years - mostly working my way through - to get my BA degree. I don't think I had a professor who expoused a particular belief system.

I took a lot of history and poly sci. I even baby sat for one of the poly sci teachers - I was stunned when I learned he was of a certain political persuasion - even after taking several of his classes.

I grew up in academia. When there was any king of get together it was like a microcosm of our society. But they were simply too professional to profess a certqain belief. Like society, there could be exceptions.

LaOT: Interesting piece and I'm thrilled your young students have an interest in our history.

You might want to go to the following site - poignant but witty.

MadMike said...

L&O: I am also retired LEO and I also teach at a local university. Oso you had a good question. I have seen teachers on the left and on the right express opinions as to the current state of affairs, although I will admit there are more on the Left in academe. I have never seen or heard a professor "force" any agenda on a student. The students can accept what they see and hear or not. They are sorely underestimated by the Right wing nut bags. College students do have brains.

MadMike said...

P.S. I am adding you to my blog roll L&O. Glad I found you. There is something that was posted over at my place from an old professor of mine at the UofA that I think you will appreciate. His "handle" is Laser's Edge.

TRUTH 101 said...

Of the three best teachers I ever had, one was an unabashed liberal. The other two were unabashed righties. I happen to respect passionette opinion even if it disagrees with mine.

Too bad I'm too old for one of LaOT's classes. I have a feeling he would be in that group.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And there's the rub: they'll be leaving you shortly.

What amazing work you do, sir.


Tapline said...

L&O, I was middle age when I received my BS and much older when I got my Masters, I had a terrible time with some of my professors who were liberal and made no bones about it. One learned pretty quickly to feed them what they wanted if you wanted to pass the class. My Masters was different because I followed what was given and enjoyed the subjects I just obsorbed what was being taught and got along great with the professors. I saw first hand the molding of young minds...sad but true.....

Law and Order Teacher said...

That would explain the intelligence of your posts. Again we'll never agree on much, but I can tell your opinions are well thought out.

Thanks for the blogroll. I'll do the same. I'll also check out your friend's thoughts. I checked out your site and it was really informative and I'll make it one of my daily stops.

Vigilance will keep them honest. Thanks for the visit.

Good to hear from you. I didn't really get too affected by slant because I was older. I can imagine the effect on younger minds. There is something to be said for age and wisdom. Thanks for the visit.

TRUTH 101 said...

Unrelated to this post LaOT.
Circumstances dictate my message be indirect and between the lines on certain matters. This sometimes works it's way into all my posts.

Continued success to you.

Leslie Parsley said...

L&OT: Thanks for the compliment, my friend. Just wish I could type.

MadMike said...

Merry Christmas to the folks over here:-)

Law and Order Teacher said...

I get it.

The free exchange of ideas is what makes us a great country. There is no freer exchange than the internet. Thanks for the visit.

Right back at you.