I keep a pocket version of the U.S. Constitution handy, and this year I’ve found myself thumbing through it on a regular basis. (I wonder why?)
If you, like me, enjoy reviewing our nation’s guiding document occasionally, plan your next review for the 18th of this month. That’s when Constitution Day (which is actually on September 17) will be observed. It’s the Constitution’s 230th birthday.
On Constitution Day, we pause to reflect on the Founders’ foresight in creating our governing principles. This is also a time to acknowledge the educators who teach civics and help students appreciate the Constitution and understand the obligations of citizenship.
Teachers will be happy to know that there’s been a surge this year in interest in the Constitution, according to the Philadelphia-based National Constitution Center, a non-partisan organization established by Congress. No matter where we fall on the ideological spectrum, I think we can all agree: That’s good news.
For those who want to celebrate the Constitution by doing some research and reading, there are a ton of civics resources on NEA’s website, and the National Constitution Center has seemingly infinite resources. The center dives deeply into the history of the Constitution, providing analyses of it by scholars of all persuasions, and activities that will inspire your pride and imagination. (Visitors guides are available in Spanish, French, Chinese, and several other languages.)
You can even dig into the back stories of the founders. There are fascinating discussions of what the Constitution means for contemporary issues, such as digital privacy and presidential pardons. Podcasts tackle topics ranging from Charlottesville and free assembly, to whether the 17th Amendment—which calls for the election of two senators from each state—should be repealed.
A host of great discussion questions are available too, such as: Who is your favorite president, and why? In your view, is there anything missing from the Bill of Rights that you would have included? Would you have signed the Constitution 230 years ago?
When it was signed, the Constitution did not include everybody. Greater representation and inclusion required the activism and courage of “we the people.” And we are still a work in progress. Our journey toward that “more perfect Union” continues. That’s something worth contemplating on Constitution Day.