The Model UN (United Nations) is a well known club that is active in high schools across the globe. The group has students each represent a country to discuss and debate modern issues going on in the world. Branching off of that is Model Congress. Model Congress deals with the same thing except students represent a congressional committee and discuss issues that way.
A few active Model Congress groups include ones at Columbia University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, College of William and Mary, and even Harvard University.
The popularity of Model Congress in general has increased within the last five years allowing competitions to occur and making the idea even more prevalent within schools.
Led by history teacher Marc Rutman, Model Congress is designed to increase students’ confidence and their ability to understand world issues.
Students use writing skills to prepare their arguments and think about the issues that will be discussed. Also, they are using public speaking skills in the debates between the different schools.
“The group really keeps the students up to date with what’s going on in the world,” Rutman said.
Model Congress focuses mainly on current issues such as the CIA and the FBI to discuss how involved they are in citizens’ lives and if the amount of involvement is appropriate, along with health care discussions.
Model Congress, however, is not limited to those with impeccable public speaking skills. Anyone is invited to join regardless of the grade they are in.
“The seniors kind of run the show, it is supposed to be a student led club, but, then again it is kind of geared toward the conferences we go to,” said Rutman.
The group attended a conference on January 10th at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. The conference was intended to be for Model UN; however, because of the growing popularity of the Model Congress groups, they were incorporated into it.
“The students were assigned to a committee and they focused on those issues that committee was given, they did a little research and team building and tried to come up with some kind of consensus,” Rutman said.
The schools debated against each other and awards were given at the end for those who won the debates. The conference was conducted the way a real congressional meeting would be.
Not only does being apart of the Model Congress add to public speaking skills and gets students to interested in what is going on with the world, it could also get them into college. Colleges love to see student involvement within schools.
“There is a little bit of work that goes into it. You have to show up to the meetings after school to know what’s going on.” Rutman said.
Many scholarships are offered to students who participate in the Model UN/ Model Congress group. Scholarships can be granted up to $5,000 at a conference while other scholarships given are usually based upon the school that grants them.
Model Congress is a unique way for students to learn the legislative process and develop quick thinking skills. Each person involved in the club is assigned a position in the committee to make certain that all are working.
The group, overall, gives students an opportunity to form their own educated opinions on political issues outside of the everyday classroom making it beneficial and enjoyable. while interacting in a healthy debate.