Uncertain Times that Inspire Engagement

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Brad Choyt

A year has passed since last November's presidential election, and what's come out of Washington over the last twelve months has been a wake-up call for many teachers and school communities. I’ve heard from colleagues across the country that their students are now asking more probing questions about our democracy. There is palpable urgency for exploring issues such as equality, freedom, and social justice. 

Understanding the thinking of our Founding Fathers and studying the reverberation of key historical events is more critical now. Witnessing greater numbers of students becoming politically active is one such ripple. This generation wants to make a difference.

I believe student engagement and activism should be encouraged. Our society benefits from knowledgeable citizens who care about the rights of others. This activism can take the form of writing state or national representatives, participating in peaceful marches, and attending town hall gatherings. Regardless of its form, civic engagement enriches classroom discourse. And if facilitated well, such conversations help students grapple with complex issues by debating perspectives represented in the full spectrum of the political landscape. 

What are some of the ways that educators can skillfully navigate these charged topics and heighten student engagement? I believe it starts by fostering hope for creative solutions to the world’s most complex problems. And then we need to encourage the debate of ideas, especially with those who have views from our own. Ultimately, deep engagement may lead to more inclusivity and, if navigated skillfully, greater awareness of our enduring connections. 

As we reflect on the last year and the challenges our country is facing today, I believe educators can and should reframe this moment as a great opportunity for both cultivating hope and fostering engagement. The yearning for human connection and solidarity that exists today can be a unique and powerful motivator. And once tapped into, teachers and students may work together to discover more unity in similarities than divisions from differences.


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