Friday, January 24, 2020

Politics in the classroom?

Yesterday students had a heated debate in the lunch room related to politics. It seemed like the impeachment news and events had trickled down to elementary school conversations. Clearly, it was time to provide some background information and give students a chance to talk.

At the elementary school, I do not share my personal political views, but instead teach students about our laws and rules of government. The focus of our discussion was that in the United States we have freedom to share our opinions, and we also have a responsibility to debate one another's point of view with respect. Then I opened up the discussion for students to share their points of view and ask questions.

I was inspired by students' respect to one another as they shared their differing points of view. I was also struck by their questions. In Massachusetts we have good fifth social studies standards which lay a wonderful foundation for understanding our government, and the challenge is to find ways to fit those standards into our already full curriculum.

After the discussion, I reached out to family members to continue the discussion at home. Sometimes we may think that students aren't aware of what is going on in the greater community, but the reality is that they are listening so it is good to make time time to discuss the issues with children in developmentally appropriate ways.

It is likely that politics will seep into classrooms all across the country in the next few months, and it is good to begin thinking about how we will best respond to this with positive educational strategies and experiences. Onward.