How Do We Teach Politics to Kids During an R-rated election?

The US Presidential Election Can Be Taught: But How?

The fifteen thousand pound Statue of Freedom placed upon the US Capitol Building is dressed to defend her country. Oddly enough, she does not wear the red liberty cap, originally worn by freed Roman slaves, which was given to the French and Americans fighting in the Revolutionary Instead, she wears a helmet, ready to defend her land.

During my summer in DC, I would squint into the bright light and try to see the Statue of Freedom a little more clearly. That summer, she captured me. Tears would stream down my face as the bright summer sun blazed into my eyes.

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To me, she shines for our liberty. Our rights.

But we must never forget the difference in having the right  to do something and being right in doing it. We have lots of rights. But, does it feel like to you that there are very people people who seem to be doing right?

Abraham Lincoln once said,

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Right now in politics, policies are taking a back seat to scandal and slander — and it is pretty hard to tell which is which. What role do teachers play in all of this?


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The Role of the Teacher in this Election.

Teachers, here are some of our challenges:

  • Can we promote civil discourse?
  • Can we promote a full examination of the issues?
  • Can we stand against indecency and lying even if politicians are caught doing both?
  • Can we discuss issues relating to how our political system works?
  • Can we model the kind of decency and civility that students need to see?
  • Can we encourage students to look at more than one side of an issue?
  • Can we help them debate and discuss without losing hope?
  • Can we remind people of the values and dreams of those who founded this country and the sacrifices we must make to carry them forward?
  • Can we be the kind of citizen that students will look up to in our own political involvement?

We are part of a history bigger than ourselves. One where people sacrificed and gave all they had for a country where they could be free. If we are to have a better tomorrow in this country, it will be because teachers took action today.

In today's show, social students teacher Trent Ashcraft apologized publicly to his students for assigning the Presidential debate. Clearly, social students and government standards require that we teach students to be “good citizens.” Can we teach students to be good citizens without good role models in government? We can and must teach politics. Here's how.

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Show Notes:

  • What happened when Trent assigned the debate as a homework assignment?
  • How can you teach kids about the election when you have R-rated topics as part of the election?
  • Is there a way to walk the tightrope of not endorsing a candidate but not endorsing behaviors that are not appropriate?
  • Can you teach civility and decency?
  • What about the bias in media? Is there a place for discussion of that topic?
  • How can we teach students to be wise consumers of media?
  • Why does the Facebook algorithm bias us towards our current views?
  • Do we need to help students examine the other side of a topic?
  • How do we help students feel comfortable expressing a different opinion than those held by the majority of their classmates?
  • How do we promote the ability to agree disagreeably?
  • Will we have long lasting ramifications?
  • What topics are great to discuss with this election? The electoral college, the two-party system
  • How we can help students ask questions in positive, constructive ways?
  • What should teachers do as they tackle this election in our classroom?

Who is Trent Ashcraft?

Trent [email protected]dtrentashcraft is a Social Studies teacher at a private Christian school in Louisville, KY where he teaches AP US History, AP US Government, and Economics. He is married and has an awesome 2 year old son.

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