Politics in the GCISD Classroom

Building the next generation of responsible citizens

Philosophy of Politics in the GCISD Classroom

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD is committed to providing students with relevant, engaging instruction that fosters critical thinking and responsible citizenship at all levels. When teachers introduce political subjects and current events, they model for students how to think critically about these subjects and have productive conversations with peers.


The GCISD classroom can be a safe place for students to put current events in context and explore political ideals, but teachers must take care to ensure these “political places” do not become partisan ones. The "political classroom" is a classroom in which young people are learning to engage in research and respectful discourse about political questions. Through responsible classroom deliberation, students can learn about current issues, how to form civil arguments, and how to evaluate bias and weigh evidence to develop an informed conclusion. Through this, content can be explored through a process that is, at its heart, democratic (Drummond 2015).


Bringing politics into the classroom should not be about indoctrinating students with their teacher's views, but challenging them to have an opinion and to understand what informs their opinion. It’s about creating an engaging learning environment that encourages the understanding and questioning of established norms. It’s about getting students to think about issues that don’t have easy answers. Teaching students how to think—and not what to think—is necessary to create a more informed citizenry (Machado 2016).
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Basic Guidelines for Teachers

Educators across the nation report a recent increase in “uncivil political discourse” and many are becoming reluctant to broach political topics in their classrooms. It is essential that while the easy route might be to shy away from controversial political discussions, the right thing to do is to have them anyway with civility and radical empathy in order to smooth the way forward (Fuglei 2016). Educators can teach students to engage civilly by following some basic guidelines:


  • Create a culture of fairness in the classroom - both toward competing views in the classroom and in the general public.
  • Avoid "political seepage," including the use of partisan humor (Drummond 2015).
  • Help students understand values behind opposing views and seek to find common threads.
  • Focus classroom instruction to foster tolerance, autonomy, fairness, engagement, and political equality and literacy.
  • Help students feel connected enough to the political process that they will vote when they get old enough to enjoy the opportunity.
  • Be diligent in offering a balanced perspective to your students (Gatens 2016).

Resources for Teaching the Election Process

  • Edutopia article with numerous embedded resources and links to lesson plans, resources, and additional information
  • Student-friendly election resources from Scholastic (Check out the Visual Timeline detailing the many stops on the "Road to Election Day")
  • Ted-Ed video (with aligned teacher resources) explaining the Electoral College

As a general rule, all classroom instruction, activities, and discussion should focus on the political process rather than debating the merits of specific candidates for office.

**SPECIAL NOTE FOR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS**

Texas Election Code requires eligible high school students be provided opportunities to register to vote at least TWICE per school year. Voter registration cards must also be distributed prior to voter registration deadlines. For the November 8, 2016 general election, the voter registration deadline is OCTOBER 11TH.


National Voter Registration Day is September 27th.


Click here for more information on how to register to vote.

References

Drummond, Steve. "Politics In The Classroom: How Much Is Too Much?" NPR. NPR, 6 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.


Fuglei, Monica. "Mitigating the Trump Effect: Teaching Civil Discourse in a Time of Political Anger." Concordia Portland Online. N.p., 11 May 2016. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.


Gatens, Brian P. "How Teachers Can Help Students Become More Engaged in Our Democracy." Concordia Portland Online. N.p., 25 February 2016. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.


Machado, Miguel. "How to Teach Politics in the Classroom." LiveTiles. N.p., 26 July 2016. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.

GCISD Humanities Department

The mission of GCISD Humanities is to instill a capacity for communication, empathy, and citizenship through critical thinking, reflection, and appreciation of diverse viewpoints.