Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rereading the Declaration of Independence

I always love NPR's reading of the Declaration of Independence, the whole thing. It's wonderful to hear the various NPR voices read this document. I've been listening long enough that I've been through several changes of beloved voices, as people die and new people arrive. Go here to hear the whole thing.

When I taught more English Composition, I often used the Declaration of Independence as one of our readings. Most students had never read it, and I was surprised how much more useful it is as a model of rhetoric than many of the essays in a standard English Comp reader. And it provides lots of interesting writing possibilities: write your own Declaration of Independence. Choose a chunk of the text and analyze Jefferson's logic. Talk about how the document holds up some 200+ years after it was written. I always got great essays. Great essays and a chance for teaching a Civics lesson--what could be better in a reading and writing assignment?

I've always been a Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights geek. I love, love, love these documents. The NPR reading always reduces me to tears by the end of the reading.

Here's a great writing prompt (and a great thing to ponder on Independence Day): for what would you be willing to pledge your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor?

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