By Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member
November 6th marks the 2018 midterm elections and it’s the perfect opportunity to educate students on the significance of voting as a privilege of democracy. K-12 students are unable to vote, but they will one day. The act of voting is a civic duty that bears great responsibility as it impacts laws and change from local to national levels. Election season is the time to introduce students to the process and remind students of their individual voice in a democracy. We’ve pulled together resources from our community and partners to support this endeavor!
Where to start? Take a look at the past
Voting in elections is not an exercise in simplicity. The founding fathers of democracy outlined election procedures to ensure the voice of the people in selecting leadership and reforming/creating laws. Students need to understand the rationale, purpose and nuts and bolts of elections and the voting process. A great place to begin your instruction is PBS We the Voters-Election Central. It offers content to educate students on the process and history of elections including campaigning, local impact of national issues, the Electoral college and interactive features. The TED-X talk Local Government-A Model for American Democracy provides a close look at how local governments are a micro model for democracy and should not be disregarded.
The voting process has also evolved throughout history. Voting-The Machinery of Democracy is an interactive exhibition from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Ballots and voting systems throughout history are examined as a response to changing times. The History of Voting in the United States: Creating a Virtual Exhibit from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History includes lesson plans on the history of voting.
Highlighting the responsibility of citizens in a democracy
Casting your ballot is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The video How to Vote Well from our partner Learn Liberty reviews best practices in approaching your responsibility in voting including being aware of your biases during an election. The Economics of Voting from EconEdLink is a lesson plan that evaluates the factors that affect voter turnout. Why do some people not vote? The costs of voting, voter turnout rate and other topics are also examined. If you are looking for something a little more lighthearted, this humorous talk from TEDEd, Why Do American’s Vote on Tuesdays? discusses the election process and how Tuesday actually leads to the optimum voter turnout.
Ensuring civic engagement with civility
Conversations of politics, especially during election time, is rooted in debate. Providing a setting to safely make arguments, listen, and communicate effectively is paramount to bridging understanding and making informed decisions. Last month we hosted the webinar Civil Discourse in a Republic: Using Historical Context to Discuss the Importance of Civility with our partner the Bill of Rights Institute to examine how effective civic discourse grounded in civility is a productive measure for society to move forward. Seeing all sides of an issue with information and not bias keeps our society stable. It keeps us from making irrational decisions versus rational ones. The Bill of Rights Institute also has shared an extensive library of curriculum resources to our repository that covers the gamut of the history and foundations of living in a free society.
How do you facilitate and foster productive conversations and learning during election season?
Lani deGuia is a Virginia Beach, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.
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