Six Bipartisan Ways to Address the US Presidential Election at School

Vol. 13 No. 9

divhead eletter Vol14 No9 election

The United States presidential election has certainly heated up in the last month, and it doesn’t seem to be calming down any time soon. Chances are, the current political climate will still be as hot a topic in August as it is now. Considering how inflammatory rhetoric can seep into classrooms, we thought it best to take a moment to prepare for potentially difficult conversations with students without taking advantage of young minds’ malleability to leverage personal political opinions.

  1. Forbid all political talk whatsoever. This is the easiest (though least nuanced) of the available options. This rule may be difficult to enforce, however, given the fireworks that have occurred already—and will most likely continue until Election Day.
  2. Use the election as an opportunity to discuss how the electoral system works. For example, you could encourage teachers to create lesson plans that cover what, exactly, the president would be capable of doing, and what policy stances would be symbolic. Common questions like “What’s the electoral college?” would make for excellent bipartisan learning opportunities.
  3. Evaluate the statistical analyses and predictions touted in the news coverage. This election cycle in particular offers some interesting moments, given the inaccuracy of projected numbers reported by the polls in both parties’ races and the offered rationale for why traditional polling methods may be failing. Teachers could encourage classroom discussion about how pollsters could create better polls—especially to reach their demographic—and just how much weight anyone should place on projections.
  4. Compare each party’s nominee’s political platform with that of their respective party’s historical stance on these issues. This exercise would be a remarkable way to demonstrate how even within a given political party, a spectrum of beliefs exist.
  5. Make low-voter turnout a classroom discussion. Traditional methods of getting voters to the polls may not be effective for future generations, and guiding this sort of classroom discussion could illustrate the importance of students’ future civic responsibilities.
  6. Don’t allow divisive rhetoric to infest your student body. Hold your students to your mission’s standards of behavior, and don’t allow a political passion to act as a scapegoat for terrible behavior.

How does your school plan to discuss the contentious presidential race? Advise your fellow Division Heads in the comment section below!

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Division Heads Vol. 10 No. 2 Playing the Numbers: An Exercise in Civics and Math
The Source for Division Heads Vol. 8 No. 1 21st Century Learning: Can the Classroom Be a Game Space?
The Source for Division Heads Vol. 8 No. 1 Gaming and Democracy: Teaching Civic Involvement Online

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 35 No. 3 The 21st Century School: Curriculum and Technology

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