Promoting Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Day-and-Age #BCSLearns

With the election season upon us and the relative hostility revolving around the Presidential Election in particular, we may think about avoiding bringing conversations about this election into our classrooms.  But, would we be missing a golden opportunity for authentic learning?  In the article entitled Civics in Uncivil Times from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Leah Shafer, the author suggests just that.  “But as the school year takes off and the election draws nearer, rejecting political conversations in the classroom will likely be impossible — and unwise, according to educators we interviewed. ‘No matter what students grow up to do with their lives, they all have civic rights and responsibilities, so they need to be prepared,’ says political philosopher Meira Levinson, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Educators have a responsibility to discuss these current events so that their students can become informed and active citizens.” Shafer asks teachers to consider “a student’s point of view:

  • Students may be more invested in this election than they usually are in politics.
  • But that interest doesn’t necessarily mean that students are well-informed about the candidates.
  • Students may have very strong emotional reactions to what the candidates are saying and doing.
  • This campaign’s rhetoric may be especially difficult to confront in a school setting.”

As we consider the students’ points of view, we, as educators, can facilitate classroom discourse the encourages students to think critically.  The article suggest encouraging dialogue with our students around the following:

  • “How should we live together?
  • Clear descriptions of how different political parties view the role of government.
  • Helping students reach their own conclusions by perusing and analyzing both candidates’ websites.
  • Distinguish the candidates from their supporters.
  • Analyze why certain people in certain areas of the country or with certain backgrounds feel compelled to speak out on behalf of those candidates.
  • Allow space for students to express their reactions.
  • Adjusting assignments based on the needs and particular makeup of their classes.
  • How presidential elections can have a profound impact on students’ lives, instilling the importance of remaining informed and engaged.
  • An important lesson in the power of words.”

All of these factors can be integrated into our conversations among students in our classroom – all while keeping our BCS Moral Compass in the center of our dialogue together – even though our politicians may not be valuing the 3Es nor living into the skills embedded within it.

  • Positive Attitude
  • Honesty & Integrity
  • Respect & Kindness
  • Responsibility & Accountability

While our politicians may be having difficulty keeping a positive attitude, displaying honesty and integrity, demonstrating respect and kindness, and holding themselves responsible and accountable, this election season affords us the perfect opportunity to reemphasize with our students why living into our Moral Compass each day matters NO MATTER WHAT!  If you’re so inclined, take a look at the video (6:26) “Explaining the ‘scandals, lies and incivility’ of the 2016 election to teens” and see how these teachers’ approach to the election. This video will even give students non-examples of our Moral Compass.  Check it out, as well as the other links to resources…

Other resources:

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