The purpose of using excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville is to provide students insight from a perspective void of American idealism. Tocqueville discusses his observations of America from an objective perspective and is impressed by what he sees.
I will have students close read a section of
Democracy in America,
entitled “On the Idea of Rights in the United States”. Now that students have become familiar with natural vs. civil rights from Paine’s work, they will be able to evaluate America’s potential to eliminate abuses of these rights. I will then ask students to discuss what Tocqueville is implying when he states, “There is nothing more prolific in marvels than the art of being free; but there is nothing harder than the apprenticeship of freedom”.
Throughout the unit I will encourage students to consider these views in terms of their own experiences and understandings of current democracy. In doing so, students can see how understanding past political theory and be relevant in today’s society. I encourage students to continue thinking representations of democracy outside of just their own community in order to broaden their understanding of others.