In Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Juliet laments that she cannot be with Romeo largely because of their last names. Their families are enemies and neither would ever accept the other into their homes. Standing on her balcony, unaware that he’s listening, she rejects the idea that names could be so important. Why should it matter what you’re called if you’re as awesome as Romeo - at least in Juliet’s eyes?
This is something I lifted from Rhonda Johnson who used to teach with me in Tulsa and who’s still kicking young minds towards greatness there. Rhonda is one of the most entertaining and intellectually challenging people I’ve ever known, and I appreciate her agreeing to let me sponge off of her in this way.
Then again, why should this be any different than anything else I’ve borrowed from her over the years?
I started using variations of what I’ve come to simply think of as “Those Circle Things” in workshops, in class, and sometimes just to annoy friends at parties. They make great bellringers, discussion-starters, and I’ve even used them as informal assessments.
They’re also pretty easy to use with Google Slides or Pear Deck or whatever technological platform makes you tingle, and work equally well for synchronous or asynchronous discussion. They're especially useful when you need ideas for "e-learning" on snow days, or when you’re huddled at home hiding from the coronavirus and wondering if you’ll have to throw out the bottled water and granola bars you left in your desk three months ago when you assumed we’d be back in a few weeks and god I need a haircut...
The First Amendment contains six specific protections, somewhat related, and presumably so very important that they all tied for first when the Framers were debating what to guarantee the mostiest mostest. These are the biggies that squeezed in ahead of militias and quartering of soldiers, and even beat out due process in order of presentation. The right to protest. The right to associate with whomever you wish, including but certainly not limited to political organizations of any and all stripes. Freedom of the press and of speech – absolute linchpins to any nation hoping to maintain the slightest credibility as a true democracy.
But coming ahead of all of them – earning the first two slots in all of Amendment-dom – are the twin ‘freedom of religion’ clauses.