Thursday, June 22, 2017

About Patriotism and Being A Patriot

When I worked as a school teacher, from time to time, I talked to my students about patriotism. Usually, it was around Independence Day, before all the school and state celebrations took place.

The kids studied the meaning of the term 'patriotism' given by a dictionary:
e.g. “Patriotism - the feeling of loving your country more than any others and being proud of it”*.

We also discussed whom we can call a patriot.

My mom's cousin served on a submarine during WW2. He and the entire submarine crew perished when the vessel was sunk by a torpedo. Those navy men were patriots, they died for their country.
All service men and women can certainly be called patriots. But what about us, who live at the time of peace and do not serve, can we be patriots as well?

Before answering that question, the students looked up the word 'patriot' in a dictionary.

"A person who loves their country and, if necessary, will fight for it".**

Furthermore, we also talked about Patriots and what local patriotism means (who a local patriot is).

When I was little, I was told by my parents how I should behave during official ceremonies when the national anthem is played. I learned I should stand still and solemnly till the anthem ended.
Years later, I explained the same to my students - no talking, giggling, jumping or dancing when the anthem is being played. Why? Because it means being disrespectful to our national symbol.

We are all proud when our national anthem and the flag are presented during the Olympics and other international sports tournaments. But what about when we are at home, in our country?

I used to have neighbors who lived not far from my place. On state holidays, they always hung the Polish flag on their balcony washing line. The flag was fixed to it with washing clips. I am sure the neighbors meant to express their patriotic attitude but the way they displayed the flag on their balcony was not proper or respectful according to me.

During the class the kids and I also talked about how the national flag should be treated/presented and how can we show our patriotism then.

Subsequently, the students, working in groups, brainstormed the answers to the following questions

#1. How can we express our patriotism / how can we be patriotic during the peace?

Some of their answers mentioning what patriots do:
  • respect our national symbols,
  • observe state holidays,
  • work at community groups/organizations,
  • do everyday duties/work well.

#2. What can we be proud of as citizens of our country/region of our country  - where we live - regarding places, things, and people?

The kids created great slideshows with their answers to both questions and presented them to their classmates.

In my opinion 'patriotism' was a really important but also an interesting topic to talk about in class. All in all, the meaning of 'patriotism' and 'patriot' is quite universal and applies not only to the Poles and their feelings. The children seemed to enjoy the class subject and the activities as well. I hope they will still remember what they learned then when they grow up.

* Definition from:
** Cambridge International Dictionary of English, Cambridge University Press, 1999

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