Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dreams From My Classroom

This past Saturday my parents and I were in Pennsylvania canvassing for Barack Obama. As my mother said, "it's funny how you drive two hours away and suddenly you're in America." Indeed, the population of Frankford, Philadelphia caused us to breathe a sigh of relief when we passed the border coming back into Brooklyn. And yet it was one of the most interesting and educational experiences of my life. It definitely made me think that in the months leading up to this pivotal election, the high schools should be focusing on our two candidates. I can't think of anything more valuable to teach teenagers, who will be voting in the next election, then involvement and awareness during election years.

In my elementary school, P.S.321, fourth and fifth graders are currently involved in an intensive election study. Every four years, teachers take two months to abandon all traditional revolutionary war/civil war curriculum in order to get the kids to understand our country's political systems. The students are running as candidates, choosing vice-presidents and discussing practical solutions to their own school problems.

If elementary school students can have such inspiring yet informative political educations, I can only imagine the ways in which a high school staff could involve their students in the elections. For the first time in my life, myself and my peers are really following and caring about our future president. But I notice that whenever our class discussions move in a potentially heated political direction, teachers flash the lights and remind us of our aim for the day (what cash crop saved Jamestown during the early colonial period of American History?)

So I would like to encourage high school staff members to embrace the interest that their students are taking in the coming elections. Encourage discussion and most of all activism. What more could you want to teach your students than citizenship and political involvement at crucial moments in history?