I was invited to present on the topic of Republic vs. Democracy at Patriot Camp last week and it was a lot of fun. There were 6 groups of children moving through the camp and on my day we started with those going into 6th grade in my first session down to those going into 1st grade in the last. The children were great and seemed to have a good time and actually learn something.
The funniest line of the day was when I announced the topic, a little boy of perhaps 9 years old muttered, “I haaaaate that word” (democracy). Another funny line from a child was when at the end of each session we were choosing to elect 2 representatives. One had a platform of giving everyone free ice cream and the other says I’ll let you keep your money and buy your own ice cream. I asked the children, “what would be a good question to ask the candidates.” The older children came up with the right question very quickly, “how are you going to pay for the ice cream?” But in one younger group, when I asked the question, one child said, “is your ice cream organic?”
We were all pleasantly surprised that even the children going into 1st grade were able to figure out which candidate to vote for. They all wanted free ice cream until they figured out the candidate would tax them to give them the ice cream. This showed that children are quite capable of learning basic principles and making decisions even at a really young age.