The Constitution Studies Program is a two year program for students who want a rigorous experience getting to know one of the most crucial founding documents of the United States.
INTRO to the CONSTITUTION
Aims of the Class
The Introduction to the Constitution is intended to enable students to thoroughly conceptualize the mechanics of the United States government, as they are laid out in the Constitution. While students will spend time memorizing constitutional text, and while we will help them to map out some of the Constitution’s most important sections and clauses, that is not what this class is fundamentally about.
Rather, this class is about enabling students to explore the conceptual frameworks the Constitution is based on, such as the separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and positive rights. In the end, we hope to arm students with an understanding of the Constitution that enables them to navigate constitutional concepts, identify those ideas in the world, and engage in the crucial discussions that will shape society in years to come.
Content of the Class
Students will investigate the core conceptual frameworks of the Constitution by approaching them from two angles:
First, students will approach the concepts directly, constructing an understanding of them by analyzing historical and present examples and non-examples. Students will play an active role in finding examples of policy and practice that embody the constitutional principles they learn about.
Second, students will approach the concepts indirectly by evaluating the philosophical frameworks that gave rise to the governmental structures in the Constitution, as well as those opposed to them. Students will have the opportunity to consult original sources, and participate in discussion and debate about the arguments presented in them.
Is My Child Ready?
This class will require students to come prepared for high level, abstract thinking. Students will also be asked to participate in activities that involve discussion and debate about legal and philosophical concepts. In order to ensure that students are ready, we recommend a minimum age of 13 to enroll. If you have a 12 year old student who who you believe is ready for the class, they will have the opportunity to sit down for a brief interview with the teacher to make sure the class is a good fit.
CONSTITUTION and MOOT COURT
Aims of the Class
The Constitution and Moot Court class is an academically rigorous dive into the content and application of constitutional law as it is understood today. Students will emerge from this class having experienced two major changes. First, they will be deeply familiar with key constitutional controversies that have colored the way we interpret and apply the Constitution today. Second, they will become skilled in the art of reading, dissecting, interpreting, applying, and responding to difficult legal and philosophical ideas.
Methods of the Class
Both of those aims will be achieved by engaging in a high level Supreme Court simulation called moot court. The class is divided into several units. Each unit tracks the development of an important constitutional doctrine, such as the legislative branch’s commerce and spending powers, substantive and procedural due process, districting and voting, comity and the supremacy clause, free speech, religious freedom and the separation of church and state, and many more topics. Each unit culminates with a full moot court competition in class, during which all precedent covered in class is fair game. In addition to in-class competitions, students will have the opportunity to compete in a number of IEProgram moot court competitions throughout the year, where they will face up against students from across the program. These competitions, both in-class and program-wide, offer the students a chance to conduct in-depth legal research, write legal briefs, and give complex oral arguments. Each year the students take the course, the topics they cover will be different, allowing them to dive into constitutional law for as long as they’d like. In the end, students will emerge from this class with skills and perspectives that will enable them to influence the broader world.
Is My Child Ready?
This class assumes that students have several skills. First, it assumes they can engage in higher-order cognition and think about highly abstract ideas. Second, it assumes they can stand up and speak in front of the class. Third, it assumes they have a basic knowledge of the contents of the Constitution and the mechanics of the United States federal government. As such, we generally recommend two prerequisites for taking this class:
We recommend that students take the Introduction to the Constitution class before taking this one.
We require that students are at least 14 years old before enrolling.
We also note that students will find speech and debate experience to be highly relevant and helpful in this class.
If you have a student who has not taken the Introduction to the Constitution class, but who you believe is ready to jump into Constitution and Moot Court, they will have the opportunity to meet with a teacher who can make sure the class is a good fit.