Inauguration Writing Prompts and Discussion Questions



With the inauguration of the next president quickly approaching and many teachers planning patriotic lessons of one kind or another, I would like to offer a few writing prompts (or discussion questions) for the occasion.  These prompts are each based on a quote from President Obama’s farewell address to the country.


Quotes about Participation in Our Democracy


Quote:  “Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.”

Question:  In what ways do people sometimes take democracy for granted?  Discuss some ways in which people could be more mindful of the value of our democratic form of government.


Quote:  “(our Constitution) has no power on its own.  We the people give it power . . . with our participation”

Question:  List some things that individual citizens can do to participate in our government.  How do these actions give power to the Constitution?


Quote:  When speaking about the importance of citizens participating in our democracy, President Obama said that participation is important ” regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.”

Question:  What did he mean by “the pendulum of power”?  Why do you think it important to be an involved citizen when a candidate you supported is in office?  Why do you think it is important when a candidate you opposed is in office? Discuss some ways that citizens can be involved in both of these situations.


Quotes about Being United


Quote:  When explaining that democracy does not requite everyone to agree, he said, “Our founders argued.  They quarreled.  Eventually they compromised.  They expected us to do the same.”

Question:  Suppose that you were a member of the US Congress.  How might you try to compromise and work together with other members of Congress with whom you disagree?


Quote:  “democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together”

Question:  How is this same idea, that “we’re all in this together,” also apply to other situations, such as your school?


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