Election 2020: 11 Ways to Engage Students From Now Until November

View full article at New York Times website: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/21/learning/election-2020-11-ways-to-engage-students-from-now-until-november.html

Election 2020: 11 Ways to Engage Students From Now Until November

Predicting the unpredictable, adopting an issue and other ideas for teaching and learning about the election.

Though election news will dominate the headlines throughout 2020, the global pandemic has impacted everything from how the candidates campaign to how the conventions work to the ways we’ll vote in November.

Whether your students are in school this fall, learning at home or experiencing some kind of hybrid, we have ideas for how they can get involved now and stay involved until November — and, perhaps, cope with feelings of helplessness during this crisis as they do.

A recent Washington Post Opinion piece by two education professors argues that, right now, teenagers are learning “profound civics lessons” as they watch Washington respond to the Covid-19 crisis. We don’t have to convince them that what happens in politics affects their lives — they’re seeing the evidence of that every day. As the essay puts it:

The coronavirus pandemic lays bare two major weaknesses in traditional approaches to teaching civics and history — what students are expected to learn and how we measure that learning. Too often, these subjects are taught as a barrage of isolated facts disconnected from the realities young people face daily.

The essay goes on to recommend approaches that encourage young people to “lean into the discrepancies they see between civic ideals and their civic realities.” This summer, we’ll be working on a suite of ideas that we hope can help do just that.

As we plan ahead, we invite you to share with us how you plan to bring the election, and the issues at stake in November, into your own classroom. We’d also like to hear from you how The Learning Network can help.

In the meantime, here are 11 ways students can keep up with the candidates, campaigns, conventions and controversies, make their opinions heard, and take action.

We had previously announced this as a photo contest, but in the intervening months we’ve decided to go much bigger. We’ll now be running a multimedia contest called “Coming of Age in 2020” that invites you to show or tell us, via writing or images, video or audio, about what you have experienced during this tumultuous year.

While these submissions don’t specifically have to focus on politics, we suspect that as students react to the pandemic, the protests for racial justice, and the coming election, many of them will. You can find details linked here as they are released.

Keep in mind that what you create can, of course, be quite small, local or personal — for example, pandemic journal entries, or photos taken in your home, neighborhood or community — as long as what you submit touches on the larger thing of the teenage experience of living through these historic times.


By Dawn Cheung
Dawn Cheung Career Coach Dawn Cheung