saying the pledge of allegiance

yesterday, after too many years to count, i said the pledge of allegiance while visiting a school.

it completely took me by surprise — 1. that we were saying the pledge, and 2. that i remembered all of it.

as i start a new high school, i’ve researched lots of different school models. one that i especially like is democratic education because it allows students to experience key elements of a democracy on a smaller scale. students serve on judicial committees to make decisions about student behavior, on budget committees to make decisions on buying new school equipment and funding trips, and on other committees to make decisions about other aspects of running the school. students are treated as valued members (or citizens) in the community and their voice (or vote) counts just as much as any adult.

as i watch “making a murderer” and watch steven avery sit through this trial, i wonder whether it would have been beneficial for him to have had some experiences with decisions by his peers, from the perspective of someone on trial and as someone on a jury, while he was in school, in order to give him a better understanding of the whole process. would it have empowered him to know more clearly what his options were as a citizen in defending his freedom?

in wanting school to be a place that demystifies the democratic processes that run our country so that they can be more effective citizens and also more competent forces of resistance when necessary, should students be asked to say the pledge of allegiance?

what if they’re not allegiant? what does it mean to be allegiant to a country? does saying the pledge make you more allegiant? or remind you daily of your lack of allegiance?

does it make you more conscious? does it push you to question why you’re saying the pledge and what it means? does it make you feel more connected to your country?

as a kid, i remember saying the pledge daily through middle school. it was always a patriotic moment, reminding me that i was a part of something bigger than myself. in high school, that was lost — at least not something that was as salient as it had been previously.

but now, as a more conscious person, can i ask my students, who may not always be treated fairly by this country, to pledge allegiance to it? or is that part of being a citizen — pledging allegiance to the ideals of your country while working to make it better?

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