Teach the election – and critical thinking


Two weeks ago, I wrote about the challenges of teaching the 2016 presidential election. I’ve thought about it a lot since then and developed a lesson that I hope will enable students to openly discuss and critically evaluate the candidates and issues.

In the lesson, each student is randomly assigned a role, as a voter for Trump, Clinton, Stein or Johnson. Each student is also given a reason for supporting their candidate — the economy, immigration, foreign policy or another issue — and time to research that issue.

All of the students supporting each candidate have collaborative time to sift through the various arguments for their candidate and select the strongest ones. Then, they have the opportunity to debate about the candidates and issues with the entire class.

I know this lesson won’t be popular with everyone. One reviewer told me it was a “gutsy lesson” — since teachers in his state wouldn’t even be able to talk about some of the issues.

I’m guessing many teachers won’t be comfortable talking about Trump at all, while others won’t be comfortable talking about Clinton. But if we want our students to engage in the political process, we need to be role models for having an open mind and considering diverse perspectives.

The lesson is designed for use in either a social studies or language arts classroom. If you’re interested, you can access it here: http://tinyurl.com/NB2016election. If you use the lesson, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Google slides are also available. Email me at Martha.Rush@neverbore.com if you’d like them.

I hope we can all work to encourage both critical thinking and citizenship between now and November 8.