Teaching citizenship in the Classroom
Professor Betty Ashbaker shared the importance of teaching good citizenship in the classroom.
Professor Betty Ashbaker became aware of the importance of the rights and freedoms we enjoy in this country when she was a flag bearer in rodeos in Idaho. “It was really eye opening as a young woman to see these tough old cowboys who would stare down a bull that weighed 1600 pounds and then take their hats off as the flags went by and have tears in their eyes,” she said.
Ashbaker, a professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education, presented the January Power of Teaching lecture on citizenship. She believes teachers can perpetuate love of country by teaching good citizenship in their classrooms. “I believe that teachers are the ones who can really promote patriotism,” she said. “We can model it.” She suggested teachers participate in activities that promote the public good such as voting, accepting jury duty, and performing community service.
Ashbaker emphasized the importance of fulfilling jury duty as being important for our country, and particularly for individuals who are at the mercy of the court. She used an analogy to illustrate her point. Imagine 12 cats judging a dog to see if it was doing the right thing or not. It would much more likely be fair if there were 12 dogs judging that dog. “[Jury duty] is a privilege and a duty to preserve the rights of American citizens,” she said. “When you think of the inconveniences [of serving jury duty] weighing against the rights of people to be [judged] by a jury [of peers], you can see that the responsibility is a heavy weight.”
Utah’s response rate for jury duty is above 90 percent, and Ashbaker encouraged future teachers to be among those who choose to participate, wherever they live. “Wherever you’re from and wherever you go to teach, it’s important that children have the opportunity to learn how important it is to serve our country,” Ashbaker said.
The Power of Teaching lecture series was organized in 2007 as an effort to validate those who are majoring in education and to help other students consider education as a major.