American Village offers ‘important education,’ director says

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mathematics and writing may be important aspects of a child’s education, but history is what separates American schools from learning institutes around the world, according to American Village Executive Director Tom Walker.

Walker addressed the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, the eve of the U.S. Constitution Day, as he explained the importance of the country’s history.

“It’s not enough that our students know how to read or write or know math and science,” Walker told the group of about 55. “An American education requires more. It requires us to teach our kids about America’s history so we can keep the republic alive.”

The director’s speech came one day before American Village was set to celebrate the 222nd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Walker praised America’s founders, and said the Constitution is as relevant today as it was in 1787.

“Back then, most people thought the Constitutional Convention would be a failure,” Walker. “But how blessed we are that they took that risk. Those living in the moment, just like we are now, don’t know what the afternoon will bring.

“The Constitution is not some dusty old relic. It lays out how we should sustain ourselves as a self-governing society,” Walker added. “Back then, George Washington actually thought the liberty won in the American Revolution may be lost during the bickering between colonies.”

To emphasize the Constitution’s importance, American Village each year stages a constitutional convention for area students. During the convention, the students must debate and construct a document using the same process as America’s founders.

“We’ve now been in 11 schools in Shelby County asking them to come take part in our constitutional convention,” Walker explained. “And tomorrow, we will have a student presiding over the event, just as Washington did.

“The students will emerge with a project that immerses them in the experience and gives them a better understanding of how the Constitution was actually created,” Walker said. “Young people who come to American Village get to experience a snapshot of American history.”