Teaching and learning are never entirely apolitical, but considering the contentiousness of US politics, at times it might be overwhelming to consider how to acknowledge politics in the classroom. It’s important to consider the impact politics have on our students, our curriculum, our classroom climate, and ourselves.
Consider the following questions:
- What role does my discipline play in the current political issues/debates/climate?
- How might my courses allow students to practice some of the fundamental, practical skills required by democracy?
- How will students and instructors be affected by the negative rhetoric in politics?
By answering these questions, instructors can determine the approach they wish to take within the classroom. If an instructor chooses to engage with the current political climate in the classroom, it’s important to establish groundwork for discussions (see Responding to Difficult Moments and Class Discussions) and to acknowledge students will vary in response.
If an instructor chooses to not address a specific topic from the current politics during class time, they might still consider the following:
- Recognize and acknowledge the event or topic, and acknowledge it might be hard for some students to focus.
- Potentially provide students a chance to write for a minute or two, to process their thoughts and feelings. Then, move on to the plan for the day.
- Acknowledge difficulty of focusing or controlling strong emotions and let students know they feel free to step out of class if they need a minute to refocus.