Dear Dr. Linda,
When I was in eighth grade, I had to memorize the preamble to the Constitution, and then recite it to the class. I loved that assignment. I can recite it to this day. My kids don’t even know what I’m talking about. I think that should still be an assignment. I hope you agree.
I agree with you 100 percent and here’s why: Research has shown that learning how to memorize in and of itself is a healthy activity which facilitates brain development for future learning. The ability to memorize is critical to understanding and higher order thinking. How do we understand the meaning of a word we can’t remember, much less synthesize its meaning in higher-order concepts?
In addition, using the preamble to the Constitution gives students an opportunity to understand why our forefathers wrote the Constitution. I feel so strongly about this assignment that I included it in a book my husband and I wrote over 20 years ago on how students can improve their memories.
Think back. Did you have to memorize the preamble to the Constitution? Did you fully understand it? Here’s a little quiz to see how much you remember.
1. What is the preamble to the Constitution?
a. a patriotic song b. an introduction to the Constitution c. an amendment
2. What does the title, “The Preamble to the Constitution” mean?
a. before you walk through the constitution b. it’s about the different laws in the Constitution c. has nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution
3. What does the opening phrase, “We the people of the United States” mean?
a. It’s about the people who wrote the Constitution b. a select group of people in our country c. all the people in our country
4. What does the phrase, “in order to form a more perfect union” mean?
a. the purpose of the Constitution is to create a better system of government connecting the states into a single united country b. the purpose of the Constitution is for each state to be independent c. neither a nor b
5. What does the phrase, “establish justice” mean?
a. to set up a system that is fair b. to be sure that there are enough police in certain states c. neither a nor b
6. What does the phrase, “insure domestic tranquility” mean?
a. to make sure that everyone stops work at 4:00 PM to take a nap b. to make sure that people in our country get along c. to make sure everyone gets along with their friends
7. What does the phrase, “provide for the common defense” mean?
a. to do what is necessary to protect the country from its enemies b. to give every household an alarm system c. neither a nor b
8. What does the phrase, “promote the general welfare” mean?
a. to move the country in a direction that will improve the lives of some b. to move the country in a direction that will improve the lives of its citizens so they’ll fare well c. everyone’s out for himself
9. What does the phrase, “and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” mean?
a. to be sure that the citizens will be blessed with freedom during their lifetimes b. to be sure that the citizens’ children and their children, etc. will always be blessed with freedom c. both a and b
10.What does the phrase, “do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” mean?
a. order people not to follow the Constitution b. officially authorize the new form of government under a set of rules, known as the Constitution c. the country should write a constitution
Answers: 1. b; 2. a; 3. c; 4. a; 5. a; 6. b; 7. a; 8. b; 9. c; 10. b
By the way, if you want to memorize the preamble, memorize each of the phrases from 3 to 10 together, separated by commas, and then recite them together. And there it is—one long amazing sentence.
Happy Fourth of July,
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