The Civic Engagement Curriculum:
- Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse 2020 – 2021
- Speech Writing and Public Speaking 2020 – 2021
The Civic Engagement curriculum consists of two courses: 1) Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse, which meets during the fall trimester, 2) Speech Writing and Public Speaking, which meets during the winter trimester and part of the spring trimester. The Civic Engagement curriculum represents the educational wing of Westminster’s Hartford Partnerships initiatives.
The course Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse exists for three reasons.
First, through a carefully selected series of lessons, Civic Engagement seeks to help Westminster students better understand who they are and for what they stand.
Second, Westminster School feels strongly it has an obligation to teach its students, explicitly and intentionally, that they have an obligation to engage in their community.
Third, learning to engage in civil discourse is the gateway through which one engages in one’s community — one must learn to listen, one must learn to consider opposing views, one must learn to honor the conventions of courtesy and respect.
This year’s Civic Engagement curriculum included the following topics:
The Speech Writing and Public Speaking course exists for three reasons.
- Introduction to Civic Engagement: “No Rights without Responsibilities.” (Statue of Responsibility.) (New)
- Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
- The Two Halves of Life: First Half of Life vs. Second Half of Life
- World View
- Equality vs. Equity (New)
- Liberty vs. Equality
- Peak Experiences (Consciousness: Hand or Mirror?) (New)
- Happiness (Pleasant Life, Engaged Life, Meaningful Life)
- The Challenge: “Make your mornings (i.e., your intellectual life, the life of the mind) as engaging as your afternoons (i.e., your extracurricular life: sports, theater, art, community service, etc.) and as fun as your evenings (i.e., your social life).”
First, being trained in public speaking is an important means by which one can contribute to one’s community — a springboard from which one can contribute to a positive public discourse.
Second, through a carefully selected series of lessons, the Speech Writing and Public Speaking course at Westminster aims to familiarize students with the fundamentals of composing and presenting a speech.
Third, the Speech Writing and Public Speaking course seeks to provide Westminster students with the actual experience of preparing and delivering a speech. Further, this process involves asking each student to participate in a public speaking contest. This contest both revives an old Westminster tradition and affirms the idea that public speaking is a fundamental tenet of the educational process.
This year’s Speech Writing and Public Speaking curriculum included the following:
- Introduction to Public Speaking
- Rhetorical Techniques
- Examine: Eckerson, “A Short Speech on Education (After 40+ Years of Teaching)” (2020)
- Examine: JFK, “Poetry and Power” (1963) (A speech delivered in honor of the new library at Amherst College dedicated to Robert Frost.)
- Write and Deliver Speech One (# 1): Students model their first speech on one of the two speeches examined.
- Write and Deliver Speech Two (# 2): Students write and deliver an original speech and attempt to tie it to one of the topics studied during the fall in Civil Discourse and Civic Engagement.
- Westminster School Fourth Form Public Speaking Contest