For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.
And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.
Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more
I love election season.
I hate politicians that say stupid things and do stupid stuff. But I love elections.
Because when you think about, the democratic election process is such an incredibly unique event. Try and ignore for a minute the billion dollars worth of Koch Brothers PAC money and the racist comments and the focus on soundbites and lack of policy discussions that might actually improve lives. And focus instead on the amazing process that ends with a peaceful transfer of power in one of the most powerful countries in the world.
It’s a system that’s worked fairly well for over 200 years.
And we need to continue sharing that idea with our students. The problem? The process is more complicated than it looks. Take, for example, an article describing why Donald Trump really doesn’t have a chance of winning the Republican nomination. Like most things, the political process (especially the primary system) is much more complicated and nuanced than pundits and politicians seem to suggest.
How can we help kids start to understand the process? Use more tech. Specifically, start using mobile apps that simulate the process in ways that make sense. Today you get a few of my new favorites. Read more
“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Article II, Section 3, US Constitution
Back in the day, George Washington delivered the first state of the union address to Congress in New York City in 1790. Thomas Jefferson believed that a face to face version was too much King George the IIIish and so began sending written reports instead. Other presidents followed suit with the report being read to Congress by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson re-started the face to face idea in 1913.
Other #SOTU trivia?
Jimmy Carter delivered the last written message to Congress in 1981. Of course, it was also the longest message at over 33,000 words, so maybe that was a good thing. Nixon’s 1972 speech was the shortest at just over 28 minutes.
But enough poly sci nerd talk. How best to use last night’s festivities? Some quick thoughts:
I’m a history guy. My shelves are full of history related titles. (Current reads? The Wright Brothers and the Oregon Trail.) I taught US history to 8th graders and World History to college kids. Did my graduate research on the Kansas Mennonite reaction to World War One.
But my first love was political science. I earned my high school government credit by campaigning for Kansas governor John Carlin and registering voters in Garden City. Graduated with a BA in political science and thought briefly about taking the civil service exam so I could apply to the State Department.
Several weeks ago, I was called to task by a secondary government teacher because there’s not enough civics and government stuff on History Tech. And I realized, yeah . . . maybe I could spend a few more minutes here and there focusing on some government resources. So today? Five of my favorite go to government goodies. Read more
This is why we do what we do. Isn’t it?
Isn’t this a major part of our task? Create students that are informed and thoughtful citizens as they enrich their communities, state, nation, world, and themselves? Develop active engaged citizens
that collaborate, contribute, compromise, and participate as an active member of a community?
Voting is essential piece of participatory democracy. Without this sort of input from actual citizens, seriously . . . what’s the point? And the various founding documents and historical interpretations of those documents define what the voting / election process looks like. One ugly piece of American history is that many times, those interpretations excluded huge swaths of citizens from that process.
That is why Voting Rights Act of 1965 was so powerful. Important. Necessary.
Why was it needed?