Politics is often a hot-button issue. The current state of affairs makes it feel extra divisive. Students come from homes with varying points of view, which often differ from family to family. It’s up to the teacher to monitor conflicts that may arise, and to create a safe space where these conflicts can actually be used as teachable moments. Students learn about politics from the media and their home lives. School can be a place to pose questions and learn why there are opposing views on different subjects.
DISCUSS CURRENT EVENTS
The easy solution is to avoid discussion of politically charged topics and headlines. However, modelling how to dig deeper into news stories and current events helps students form educated opinions. When a big political news story is being discussed in the media, find ways to connect it to the material you are teaching and allow students to respond and ask questions. Encourage students to pay attention to current events to help them grow up as active citizens.
EXPLAIN BOTH SIDES
Students may be confused about why things are happening in the world, or they might have differing opinions. It’s up to the teacher to help students understand the meaning behind the events. A teacher should be cognizant of all sides of the political spectrum and present each of them to the students. Showing students all sides of an argument helps them come to their own analytical conclusions.
The goal of introducing political discussions into the classroom is to help students understand that these issues and events cause conflicting responses. It’s most important to present the reasons why there are differences, and not to fault one side or the other. Teach students to understand why there are different perspectives so they can learn to empathize with people they may not agree with. It opens up healthy discussions and debates, which will ultimately help them learn to work together even when they disagree.