We the People Simulated Congressional Hearings
We the People program enhances students’ understanding of the foundations of constitutional democracy and the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The design of the instructional program, specifically its innovative culminating activity, makes Illinois We the People successful with both teachers and students. In addition to strengthening student’s content knowledge, research studies have proven the long-term impact of this critical program on student’s civic participation and political tolerance later in life.
The foundation of the We the People program is the classroom curriculum. It provides students with an innovative course of instruction on the history and principles of constitutional democracy in the United States. Critical thinking exercises, problem-solving activities, and cooperative learning techniques help develop intellectual and participatory skills while increasing students’ understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy.
The program’s culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students “testify” before a panel of judges. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues. This experience is a seminal moment for students, learning a wide-range of life and work skills needed in today’s communities and workplaces.