Protesters demonstrate in front of the Capitol urging Congress to end the federal government shutdown. / AFP/Getty Images
The government shutdown has become a teachable moment for youngsters, from moms who teach their kids that actions have consequences to civics classes that teach about democracy at work.
"I think other governments will see us as children fighting over a piece of chocolate," says Marian Almores, a senior at Niles North High School in Skokie, Ill.
In a Skype interview with 23 sophomores, juniors and seniors at North High, many blamed the Tea Party Republican lawmakers who would not vote for a new budget to fund the government unless funding for Obama's Affordable Care Act was removed. Others say both houses of Congress and the president are to blame for being unable to reach an agreement.
Pankaj Sharma, their teacher, says he wants his students to learn about the impact of politics on government and how growing partisanship affects even simple functions such as passing a funding resolution to keep government operating.
"I also would like my students to learn the importance of compromise in our system of government and why compromise sometimes is difficult to achieve," he says.
Senior Chris Biundo says the shutdown "shows that our lawmakers can't talk to each other without yelling. It also shows the weakness of our government and the people voting for them."
The students in Rory Dippold's five seventh grade civics classes at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., have a closer view of the shutdown. Dippold says most of them have parents who work for the government or know someone who does.
"It's definitely personal," Dippold says.
Hediscussed the shutdown with the students on Tuesday, the first day, and Wednesday. He says they wanted to know why it occurred, how the country would be affected, what the impact will be on the economy and why school didn't close.
He is using the shutdown to teach his students that democracy is messy and people don't always agree. More important, he says, he wants the students to absorb the idea of citizenship, the understanding that they have a responsibility for the direction of their government.
"It's the idea that we are in this together," he says. "They have the ability to make change through their elected officials or sharing their concerns."
"We teach the students not to procrastinate, to make sure they do their work, to meet their deadlines," he says. "So they don't understand why this is occurring. They see the hypocritical nature of it."
Parents are using the shutdown to teach small lessons closer to home.
Karen Carey in Lyndonville, Vt., says she won't get into the politics of the shutdown or who is to blame with her kids. Instead, she is talking to her 13-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son about the consequences of their actions.
"I want them to understand that if you take the last juice box, and there is a kid behind you allergic to milk, there is a consequence to what you did," she says. "You may not see the repercussion but your actions still have an impact."
It's a lesson, she says, she wishes someone had taught members of Congress.
Copyright 2013 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Students: Congress members need to grow up