New Video for Constitution Day!

Representative Government

You’ve told us that students often confuse republics and democracies. Do your students understand the key differences? We created a short, engaging video for Constitution Day on the constitutional principle of representative government. Exciting visuals from current events, an engaging historical narrative, brief scholar interviews, familiar music, and memorable quotes will make this 7-minute video perfect for use on Constitution Day, and every day! You can watch on TeacherTube as well.

Use this viewing guide to guide your students through the video.

Posted in Staff Updates


14 Responses to “New Video – Representative Government”

  1. tmmartin says:

    This film is just more confusing to the kids. I think it works to say that we have a REPRESENTATIVE Democracy, and not a DIRECT democracy. Our book does just that. We do speak of the dangers of direct democracy but it is helpful to explain the relationship between the two and not to express them as so mutually exclusive. Your video NEVER DEFINES for the kids precisely how these “democracies” become chaotic or corrupt…and the primary source quotes could use analogies or real world examples to back them up. HOW does democracy become such a bad idea?

  2. Pam Carter says:

    Can you tell me where I can locate the viewers guide that goes with the Representative Democracy video?

  3. Theresa Flannery says:

    It would be helpful if the quotes were backed up by examples. The blank statements chosen about “pure” or “direct” democracies are not very helpful when not supported by examples…what democracies HAVE committed suicide? How do they lead to chaos and fail?

  4. The Bill of Rights Institute says:

    Thank you for your comments, Theresa and “tmmartin”. Those are great discussion questions you suggest. We’ve recently posted a viewing guide and we hope you find it a valuable resource to go along with the video. Though we all teach the Constitution on Constitution Day, we hope we can help you find ways to bring the Founding documents into your classroom all year long!”

  5. Chris Belch says:

    I though the video was very useful. I like that it is flashy, upbeat, and uses current television footage that students are likely to see on tv. Its current, relevant, and well laid out.

    While I wouldn’t use it to exclusively teach a lesson, I think it makes a nice video to use as an introduction or an end of the unit review.

    Maybe I’m guessing here, but I think it was meant to be a springboard for your lessons and not something to take the place of a teacher.

    Great job as ususal!

  6. Bobbie says:

    I don’t like having to watch a video, I would prefer to READ. Is there a booklet or something that gives the same information that the video does?

  7. yazi says:

    Okay, so the founders didn’t create a democracy. We knew that already since there was no right to vote (and women and non-whites weren’t allowed to vote). But they also didn’t forbid a democracy. Thankfully, we have since attempted to create (an imperfect) one. So now we have a constitutional representative democratic republic. What’s the problem? Why so touchy about using the word democracy?

  8. [...] Thanks to a link at the Volokh Conspiracy here is a five minute overview of the difference between a democracy and a republic: [...]

  9. CrazyTrain says:

    This is not very good. “Representative democracy” does NOT equal “Republic.” Just because they both start with “Rep” does not make them the same thing. A Republic is a public government (res publicae) where sovereignty is in the public; this contrasts with a monarcy where sovereignty is in a person. Thus, Rome was a Republic when it got rid of its Kings in 500 BC (or so).

    A Republic, however, can have direct democracy or representative democracy or no democracy at all and be a dictatorship. Still a republic because there is no king and sovereignty at least theoretically still resides in the people and not in a royal house or person.

    A monarchy too can have direct democracy or representative democracy or no democracy at all. Great Britain is clearly a monarchy but it still has representative democracy and some direct democracy. But sovereignty still resides in the Queen and her heirs. See also Spain. Saudi Arabia, however, is a monarchy that is not democratic — the King exercises full control.

    Again, this video is just wrong — we are a Republic because we don’t have a king. The federal government is (for the most part) a representative democracy because we elect representatives. But the fact that California has direct democracy for important things does not mean that its flag — which reads “California Republic” — is fraudulent. It is still a Republic, because it has no king.

    Get it right.

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