The incendiary rhetoric and behavior dominating this year’s presidential campaign may have left teachers across the country wondering if they should teach about the election at all, but a few teacher-tested tips can help them engage young students in discussions about the democratic process, according to the new issue Teaching Tolerance magazine, released today.
The cover story of the Fall issue, “Teach 2016,” explores the five questions or concerns raised by educators in a recent Teaching Tolerance survey that found the presidential campaign is having a profoundly negative impact on students, including an increase in bullying of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been targeted by candidates. More than 40 percent of educators responding to the survey said they were hesitant to teach about the election.
“Teachers are facing a real dilemma in the classroom this election year,” said Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance director. “The election offers a great opportunity to teach about the political process but there’s also the risk of normalizing the objectionable behavior and language we’ve seen this year. Fortunately, there are ways for teachers to teach these valuable lessons despite what we’ve seen on the campaign trail.”
The magazine aims to help teachers prevent students from repeating certain words or phrases used by candidates, address xenophobic ideas repeated by a student, and prevent students from isolating classmates who support a particular candidate.
It also examines other election-year topics, including how to motivate young voters and how to teach students to bridge the political divide through meaningful and respectful conversations. The magazine offers a professional development activity to help teachers maintain objectivity while discussing election topics. And it explores the obstacles to voting faced by some American Indians – a group with a lower voting rate than any other demographic in state and national elections.
Other topics explored in this issue include how teachers can address topics such as race and police violence as well as how educators can ensure students’ senior year prepares them to be responsible citizens.
Teaching Tolerance magazine, published three times a year, is the nation’s leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. It is distributed free of charge to more than 410,000 educators nationwide.