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Learning a second language isn’t just good for your brain—it’s good for democracy, too

Quartz – Ed Cooke

“Though we speak our own language all the time, we don’t tend to notice how it works until we learn another one. Until then, we lack the necessary perspective: As the German poet Goethe said, “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” When we learn a second language, all the “decisions” our language invisibly makes for us becomes visible. We notice how our way of describing the world is just one of many, and that there is a dazzling variety of ways in which we could see the world if we had the language to do so.”(more)

What’s the purpose of our Bill of Rights? Most eighth-graders have no idea

The Seattle Times – Claudia Rowe

“Fewer than half of American eighth-graders know why we have a Bill of Rights. Only one in 10 understand the concept of checks and balances between branches of government. Most surprisingly, 75 percent of high school seniors cannot name any of the powers granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution. All of those results come from national exams, and they are ringing alarms across the country – from government offices to school hallways. So this month, Seattle approved plans to bolster civics education, starting in May…High school seniors already take U.S. Government, but younger students need a better understanding of representative democracy and “why their voices are critical,” as Kathleen Vasquez, the district’s manager for literacy and social studies, put it.”(more)