So when anyone asks me what I do and I say I’m a teacher the next question is invariably what do you teach. I say 8th grade English and watch the wincing and cringing and hear “you’re brave” “you’re crazy” and other variations. I love middle school, and I love teaching eighth graders, well for the most part. The utter laziness I see from some makes me nuts but hey they then get to deal with annoying Mrs. D bugging them in class and out to get their work done so in a way that’s fun.
One of the best things about eighth graders is that they truly are becoming more aware of the world around them. Years ago teaching propaganda techniques during election season I had students investigate the senatorial candidate pages. I distinctly remember one student coming in saying negative things about a candidate, clearly parroting what had been heard at home, by the end of class that student had changed their mind about the candidate. Yeah I waited for a phone call on that one lol.
So being election season again and a particularly contentious one at that I’ve had my my students writing letters to the candidates for their journals. The first was a letter about the attack ads in light of the fact that students are taught not to bully and to treat others as they want to be treated. Some of those letters were wonderful.
Their most recent journal asked them to share with the candidates the one issue they felt was the most important and should be addressed first when the winner takes office. I LOVE the responses, and even more I LOVE the number of my students who went looking for statistics to support their issue. It give me great hope for the future when I see the issues my kids think are important. It also frustrates me even more when I see constant comments online about the liberal indoctrination occurring in schools. I know I’ve worked with teachers who covered a great deal of the political spectrum, from very conservative, to very liberal, and everything in between including those that align with third parties.
Personally I tell my students my job is to teach them how to think and make decisions based on facts and research not what to think. I tell them I don’t care who they vote for but that when they do become old enough and register to vote to please be educated voters. After reading these letters I have hopes that they will do exactly that.
Here is a list of issues my students feel need to be addressed:
- homelessness, specifically homeless vets
- gun control, both sides of this were presented
- body shaming/eating disorders/dress codes
- illegal immigrants, again both sides were shared allowing and banning
- schools safety, tied to some of the gun control letters
- the national debt (WOW! yes two students talked about their concern about our national debt)
- inequality/racism/sexism/homophobia/genderism etc
- teacher pay (nope I didn’t even mention this, that was all my kids, yep I love them 😉
- asking the people what they think should be first addressed bc said student has no interest in politics, thought this was a good suggestion but no idea how it would actually work
- gas prices
- unemployment and underemployment
- military and education funding, as in pay them all more
- legalize marijuana
- cost of school supplies
- and a request to explain everything they said or claimed about the other candidate.
Yep, I think my kids, though they may not all agree on the issues, are a bright spot for our future. Well if we can all get past this ridiculous Killer Clown thing that is smh