“No Mitt Romney didn’t appeal to the Hispanic vote, that’s why he lost. His only approach was to target a white majority.” “Yeah, you’re right. Also, Obama got most of the swing states that Romney didn’t really reach out to. I mean, when you’re campaigning you really have to focus on the swing states because that’s where most of the important electoral votes are. It’s a numbers game.”
It was a rainy day and I was sitting in the middle of a school bus bumping along on the way to a field trip eavesdropping on some of my eighth grade male students who were having an intelligent and informed conversation over the results of the 2012 election. I was extremely impressed with my boys because my three months of targeted presidential election instruction had a visibly deep impact.
Fast forward to the present--Americans are now witnesses to one of the most divisive and nail biting elections in United States history. Since teaching my eighth grade class, there is more technology, social unrest, and political upheaval then there seemed four years ago. How as a teacher, can one instruct students about elections and politics without getting caught in the emotionally charged fray that could be played out in the societal microcosm of the classroom?
The Solution/Teacher’s Tips
The main ingredient to teaching students about politics is cultivating the Poker Face. This means that students should not be able to recognize their teacher’s political convictions and bias. Remaining calm and thoughtfully planning lessons (especially for older students) is a sure win in maintaining an even keeled classroom that promotes an intelligent conversation that rivals any 2016 presidential debate. How can this be achieved?
Teaching any subject well not only generates interest and respect but it ultimately achieves the teacher’s goal. This goal is to help students become independent and free thinkers. I knew I had done my job because four years later, through the world of Instagram and Facebook, I knew that many of my former students who were seniors in high school or in college had gone out and voted. Some had even actively participated in campaigns covering state or local issues. While I know I can’t take all of the credit, it is satisfying as an educator when I can see how my lessons have encouraged active political participation and citizenship in the next generation. It is this reality then, that can give Americans hope.
I am an education coach and consultant as well as an executive functioning coach for children struggling with ADD/ADHD. You can also check out this blog at aquinaseducationcoaching.wordpress.com and