Well, I have to say I’m rather torn about the plethora of information I have to make use of as I plan for class. I recently assigned students an investigative report, as part of a larger group of assignments that span the semester (a reflective piece on the topic they chose, with a number of initial sources, followed by an Annotated Bibliography, then the report, and now the argumentative paper). The report helps hammer home the need for careful, thoughtful, and correct reporting of factual information. This assignment also provides the opportunity for me to talk about how important the fourth estate is to our democracy, and also to talk about what can happen when that estate takes an extended lunch break in which multiple alcoholic beverages are consumed.
We talked about Watergate (and I used a great documentary, which resulted in stellar discussion after viewing) and we talked about the likelihood that it could happen again. Well, let’s rephrase. That it IS happening again.
My students were in pretty much 100% agreement that yep, Watergate will happen again. I was unsurprised. What I was surprised about was how very dark in that classroom it becomes when all the students are so engaged with something that their computers go to sleep. I’ve never seen this level of “not asleep” students. If I were a republican, or associated with Trump, that would scare me a little. These kids are not having it.
But I’m torn about this. I don’t want my students to become jaded and think that this is indeed the norm. None of this is normal. It is not normal for people to chant “Lock her up” at rallies. It’s not normal for people to hold rallies for reelection within days of being sworn in. And it’s not normal for politicians to be willing to ignore foreign groups meddling in our elections. My students have told me, repeatedly, that this was the first election they were able to vote in. I apologize to each one of them when they say this, and assure them that at one time in our country’s history, politics was not such an unbelievable clown car.
I am so excited to have so much information to use to help teach my students about the importance of writing, truth telling, and the fourth estate. I am so incredibly sad to have so much information to use to do this. This is not what I want for my students, or for this country.