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Posts tagged ‘democracy’

Creating both great producers and consumers of information

I’m in snowy and snowing Minnesota at its annual Council for the Social Studies conference. We’re sheltered inside the state History Center – what better place for a bunch of social studies teachers?

First session is right up my alley. Strengthening democracy by training kids to be better users of social media and online tools. Jennifer Bloom from the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation is helping us create socially responsible and informed citizens. The Foundation hosts the Teaching Civics website – a cool place with over 800 lesson plans. They also have some handy ed resources.

As we get better at training kids to be engaged and informed citizens, she says Read more

Teaching in the time of Trump

Several days ago, I wrote a quick post highlighting seven ways to survive a divisive election while making your students smarter. That post generated an interesting conversation – many teachers began asking similar kinds of questions. Specifically . . . how can we teach diversity and tolerance when much of the campaign rhetoric directly challenges these very American values while at the same time maintaining a neutral political stance?

A recent article in the National Council for the Social Studies journal Social Education can help us address this concern. Titled Teaching in the Time of Trump by Benjamin Justice and Jason Stanley, the NCSS article provides context, rationale, and specific suggestions for focusing on American democratic values and process.

The article is an incredibly useful teaching tool but it also provides a powerful reminder of our fundamental task. Head over to get the full text but I’ve pasted some snippets below to provide some flavor of what Justice and Stanley have to say.

Teaching in the time of Trump raises a fundamental pedagogical question: is it permissible for a teacher to adopt a non-neutral political stance in the classroom, either through explicitly addressing the problems with Trump’s rhetoric or, conversely, by remaining silent in the face of it? How can teachers balance the much cherished value of political impartiality (protecting the students’ freedom of expression and autonomous political development) against the much cherished American values threatened by Trumpish demagoguery?

Why should we even worry about this? Read more

E pluribus unum – part duo

I was up late last night. Well . . . it was really early this morning. If you haven’t grasped this already, I’m an election nerd. I love the data crunching, the strategy, the pundits, the conversations about policy . . . heck, I even love the ads. (Granted, I live in Kansas. Not exactly a swing state so anytime we actually get a political ad, it’s a big deal.)

So I was up late / early. My wife and daughter spent much of the time with me watching the results come in and listening to pundit reactions. But neither made it to Governor Romney’s or President Obama’s speeches.

Lightweights. Read more

Tip of the Week – So Moved

I like this. A lot. I’m not sure if it’s the text or the images or a combination of both. But I like it.

It’s why you teach Social Studies and history. It’s why you have kids write, analyze primary documents and role play Korematsu v. United States. Why you have kids break down the Declaration of Independence and argue about the Bill of Rights. It’s why you read about Selma and the Dust Bowl and Sacajawea and Reconstruction and a thousand other people and events. It’s why you do what you do.

But sometimes you need a reason. A reason in the current political climate of divide and conquer to feel good about what you do every day. A greater purpose for getting in front of 28 middle school kids every day.

If you need a shot of Founding Father juice, this is it.

Maira Kalman has other stuff too. It’s an old blog but with tons of awesomeness. And she’s got a book that every Social Studies teacher should have.

So moved.