Imagine what the final presidential debate looks like to a high school student
South Carolina Capitol Grounds, 2015
Photo by Jason Lander, Creative Commons
That same year in March 2015, the private computer server sitting in Clinton’s home became a news story shortly after the Justice Department released a report showing that the Ferguson, Mo. Police violated the constitutional rights of the city's African-American residents.
Now, imagine your 16 year old self participating in today's political process in today’s information environment. The Internet, Twitter, TV and the 24 hour news cycle make it difficult for young people to avoid the news. Most middle and high school students get a dose of current events nearly everyday at school so young people are taking this election in whether they want to or not.
Laws about gender identity and public
restrooms confuses students.
Photo by Wayan Vota, Creative Commons
When ideas clash we’re reminded that different versions of the United States exist - dependent on income, race, education, religion and geography. Family and peers serve as filters for the news my students consume.
Relevant issues and no political resolve in Congress
Talking heads on TV have spun out of control making it difficult to discern honest analysis from propaganda. I am mindful that tension is part of our American political legacy and changing the current political culture will be a slow and messy process.
Do today's students have the patience to endure a long road to progress? Do the adults they look to for guidance possess the stamina?
I remind students that change requires equal parts desire, optimism and organization. When I get a tired response from my class I am empathetic. My reminder is also aimed in the mirror.
Sign outside Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20
children were shot and killed in 2012 along with six
adults. Photo By Justin Lane, Creative Commons
This December will mark the four year anniversary of Sandy Hook and nothing substantive has changed. High school students recognize that if the preventable death of twenty children does not usher in a spirit of urgency and bipartisanship then it seems nothing will.
In today's America, teens wonder why we struggle so mightily to tackle tough issues. Why are we so scared?
When they see the debate highlights (or lowlights depending on your perspective), they aren't looking to be inspired. They're looking for it to end.
That’s a problem.
Somehow, legit facts become disputed and half-truths can garner so much airtime that they become the truth. All of this contributes to a political environment that makes statesmanship elusive. Legions of hard-liners grandstand in a fight to be the loudest and sometimes I feel like I am watching just to see the blood spill. And I am the teacher, not the teenager.