Teaching Constitutional Democracy in Gradeschool A Tract Book Essay By Anthony J. Fejfar © Copyright 2006 by Anthony J.

Fejfar

Lawrence Kohlberg, the noted developmental psychologist, spend a good portion of his career trying to develop Constitutional values and formal operations thinking in gradeschool and secondary school. He failed. Try as he might, Kohlberg could not get students to develop formal operations thinking applied to law. I argue that Kohlberg’s methodology was unsound. Kohlberg tried to teach constitutionalism by developing democratic processes in gradeschools and secondary schools. He tried to develop the democratic classroom. Kohlberg’s mistake was that he was teaching his students politics, or political science, at best, not law. Legal teaching requires the use of the modified Socratic method where the case method of teaching is utlilized. I have had some initial success with teaching law to gradeschool students. For career day with my daughter, when she was in third grade, I came into her class and did a mock law school class dealing with the law as it relates to

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lost property. The third grade students caught on to the teaching very well, and did an excellent job. This leads me to develop the hypothesis that law, and constitutionalism can be taught, using the modified Socratic Method of teaching, to gradeschool students. For the future, I suggest that law be taught in third grade to students using modified Socratic method, involving, an introduction, question and answer dialogue, and then summing up by the teacher at the end of the discussion. As the students progress, they can be taught to act as lawyers and judges deciding real cases.

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