What is a constitution? Why do countries make them, especially after a battle of independence? As Mexico celebrated its own constitution on the 5th of February, we spent the day exploring these questions and studying Mexico’s unique role in history by guaranteeing more than just political rights for its people.
After some initial brainstorming on what a constitution is, we jumped into studying the path that brought Mexico’s constitutions into being. We turned to our favorite source of history videos, Crash Course, to look at the Spanish empire and how imperialism eventually led to an independent Mexico and its first Constitution. While the videos are geared more to a high school audience, they have enough catchy visuals and jokes to keep the Younger Fives’ attention while giving them a great chance to start to ponder the lessons of history.
The kids then got to see the progression of Mexico’s three major constitutions, enacted in 1824, 1857, and 1917 respectively. They definitely noticed the increase in the number and types of rights through time, and they started to connect how each Constitution was a response to the conflict that preceded it (i.e. the 1824 Constitution, written soon after independence, specifically states “The Mexican nation is sovereign and free from the Spanish government and any other nation”). The 1917 Constitution really spoke to them, with its promises of equal treatment under the law for men and women, a free and secular education for all, and an eight-hour work day with a day off each week. This was actually the first constitution in the world to address these kinds of social rights, and we can see why the people of Mexico are so proud of it.
Inspired by the lessons of the day and by our previous reading of A Life Like Mine, Five of Hearts took to making a constitution of her own, in comic form. If countries across the globe could live up to these same guarantees for their people, what a different world we would live in.