A Primary Source poster in time for Presidents' Day! Lately been getting an itch to change things up with the posters in my room and my decorations. Like with many things for my teaching, I had very particular ideas for what posters I wanted. The most important ingredient is the inclusion of primary sources. I plan to debut this poster of rules to my students in honor of Presidents' Day!
When I received a copy of George Washington's "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior" as a gift I was instantly inspired to turn it into a poster for my room. If you don't know the story, when Washington was around 16 years old he transcribed 110 maxims taken from a French book on how to behave in a civilized way. This exercised helped him practice his handwriting while also giving an idealized standard of behavior for later in life. Reading through these, you can imagine how fun he was at parties! I picked the ones that were interesting, relevant to students, and/or amusing.
Because I like to keep my products customizable for others' tastes, this one comes with a variety of options. It's ready to be printed on the 3 different sizes of standard paper measurements (Ledger 11x17, Legal 8.5x14, or Letter 8.5x11). It's intended to be printed on Ledger, so I had to make a few extra edits to the smaller sized paper to make them fit on a single page. You can also choose whether you want the option with his portrait in the background (like on the main preview thumbnail), or if you'd rather the background be more clean and have his portrait on a title page. Each version comes in a Word document and a PDF (the document in case you want to edit it yourself, and the PDF for more uniform printing).
These are definitely written in the style of the mid-1700s, but like I do with my primary source assignments I've cut them down to a more understandable size. I've also added a few text effects to both grab attention and make the meaning of the list more clear. As an extra, I've included a "translated" document that puts his rules into more modern language. I may turn it into a short activity for my students to translate into their own words, so I wanted to have a sample of it first.
Among the rules selected for this poster are the following:
1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are Present.
5. If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.
7. Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed.
24. Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Public Spectacle.
56. Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.
74. When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.
82. Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.
89. Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.
110. Labor to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.