Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Politics

I must say as an elementary teacher I never thought I would have to deal with such contentious political discussions in my classroom. While I was out one afternoon, my kids apparently had a poorly informed and most unkind political discussion leading to excluding others based on the politics of those children’s parents. Once I recovered from the shock that my kids were having this mean-spirited political discussion, I had to step back and think about what lead my children to engage in any political conversation. I had to ask myself the question why are my children who are only six having this level of political conversations? Is it bad, is it good? Do I allow it, or do I forbid it? As a child, I remember going to a presidential rally, but I never remember talking with my friends about the candidates and certainly never thought of their politics as affecting my friendship or respect for them. I spent wakeful hours that night thinking about where the line should be drawn between how much we expose our children to. Well, anyway back to my kids. I really had to decide what I was going to say to them. While I think that you want to make your children aware of some of the events that are happening in our world, I think that sometimes as adults we forget that they are still very young children. We must remember that they still need to be sheltered, and they are always listening and taking in what we are saying. So, the next day at school as a class we had a long conversation about respecting others and also about the upcoming election. What I ended up telling my children is that if they have questions, concerns, or worries about the upcoming election to come and talk with me or their parents. While I think it is great from a government or civics perspective that some of my kids are enthralled with the election, so much of their information is the sensationalism found on TV and in the not so watchful or mindful remarks of parents and relatives. I believe that as an adult when discussing politics or other subject areas with children, there is a fine line between what is developmentally appropriate and what isn’t. I think that we always must consider what is appropriate and what isn’t. I just hope in the process we do not lose sight that both teachers and families need to honor the innocence and ingenuousness of our little people and provide respite for them from issues and concerns that are too confusing, often scary, and certainly worrisome to our little ones. These are short lived and precious years, and we are not serving our children if we rob them of the protective, carefree possibilities of this time.


Anonymous said...

There are many points in your entry to consider. As I watched my 7 year old playing hide and seek and covering her best friend in a pile of fall leaves today, I once again realized how the dynamics of childhood should be spent in the joy and discovery of the planet. Young children are not ready for the world of adult politics. It is an arena far outside of their comprehension and cooperation of play and discovery. The tone of the campaign is scary and really doesn't educate our kids about democracy....but time in the sandbox or building a jumping pile of leaves will help them learn.
Keep writing!

Mary Lee said...

Yikes! We're sort of ready for this when we have to teach the developmentally inappropriate unit on government to our 4th graders (please don't get me started on economics...) but at SIX???!?!?!?

It seems like the campaign season is becoming another sport in the U.S. and the same language and behaviors are transferring into an arena that should be much more serious and thoughtful. Next thing you know the candidates will be selling those annoying car flags like the sports teams. (Ugh. Don't let an entrepreneur read this comment. They'll probably make a million off political car flags!!)

Karen S. said...

What a great post!

Zsofi said...

Here is an interesting entry from about dealing with politics in the classroom.


Zsofi said...

Sorry, that should have been a link...

Politics in the classroom