Teachers Experience 'Government in Action'
By Csaba Sukosd | February 27, 2020
Thousands of students come to the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center every year. But the building's most pivotal visitors are arguably teachers.
More than 20 educators recently traveled to the home of the state Supreme Court to expand their intellects and practices through an Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) program known as Ohio Government in Action.
"It's arguably more important than ever for students to understand how government works if you want them to be intelligent about exerting their actions as young adults, and growing adults," said Kate Strickland, OCLRE's executive director.
The annual, two-day conference immerses visiting faculty from across the state with firsthand experiences on how the judicial, legislative, and executive branches operate in Ohio. As part of the agenda, teachers spoke with justices and legislators, and saw them in action during oral arguments, as well as State Senate and House of Representative sessions.
"When I'm able to get out into the statehouse or courthouse, I feel like I'm a little bit more knowledgeable in what I'm speaking about," said Brennan O'Neill, who teaches at Worthington Kilbourne Middle School.
Part of the conference also consisted of a classroom component to discuss lessons, and ways to utilize material. A major emphasis of the curriculum was how to make history topical, and conversational. Instead of just rehashing facts, presenters said there should be a focus on analyzing actions, which facilitates more perspective and discussion, where not every answer is right or wrong.
"I find that it's very valuable that they are thinking for themselves, and getting the right information for whatever their viewpoint might be," said O'Neill. "I want them to build their own points of view, and however I can do that is the most rewarding for me as a teacher."
The impact of education - especially civic knowledge - can be felt for generations. That's because a teacher's inspiration can encourage young minds in any number of directions. It's an influence that can develop an average good citizen, or even a future chief justice.
"I remember the teachers to this day that were impressive, that knew what they were talking about, that they wanted me to know, grow, and learn," said Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. "To be that kind of a role model, to be that kind of adult in the lives of students, I think is priceless."