Thursday, December 3, 2009
A Capital Day At The Capitol
Thanks to the efforts of a friend and sister unschooling mama, we spent the day with a group of kids up at Maine's capital mainly at the Capitol--(a little humor for you theah, deah). Our unschooling group was hosted by Maine Representative, Jane Eberle. She was most instructive in helping the kids learn about bills, legislation, committees and the workings of the Capitol, and we even had the opportunity to tour Maine's beautiful building.
On Monday, we met with Rep. Eberle to discuss Reed's Rules Of Order in the legislature and how bills are proposed and do or don't become law. The focus was on hearings, working sessions and finally, voting on a bill. The group eventually decided on a mock bill for their mock hearing that was held yesterday. The mock bill proposed banning the use and sale of all artificial sweetners in the state of Maine. For purposes of the exercise, the group divided into the opposition and proponent sides of the bill.
I wish, overall, that the group had been better informed about what makes a good bill and how to examine and distinguish a good bill from a poor one. I think we were a bit short on time, but had we more time to prepare, I think more of the kids would have a better understanding of the process, rather than merely deciding legislation on questionable science and emotions or who they were friendly with. I would have liked to have seen more participation from everyone, as well. (Hey, I have a thing for political science, what can I say?) If you are curious, Olivia and Adam were in oppostion to the bill and made some good arguments as to why the ban of artificial sweetners would not be beneficial to the state. I think that, even though as a family, we don't eat artificial sweetners and we question the safety of consuming them (in most cases) they recognized that banning them outright would be a financial, medical and civil burden and infringement on Maine's people and visitors. The proponent side won, however, after it was stated that "artificial sweentners cause cancer, obesity and are put in children's vitamins!"
It really was a treat to visit the Capitol, as I for one, had never been inside. I think the year most Maine students visit, I was living in Ohio that year, so I missed it. (This happened a lot.) The building is simple, elegant and beautiful and understated at the same time, in other words, very indicative of Maine.
By the way, unfortunately Olivia was feeling a bit unwell for our visit, so if you notice her looking a bit glum, that's why. It's that time of year, I'm afraid--very busy, and I'm trying to keep us all well with healthy living--sunshine and fresh air, sleep, good diet, vitamins, neti pots and elderberry tonic.