At the beginning of this week, I was thrilled to find out that many of my students (in Hong Kong) had been following the US election. They showed a genuine interest in politics and current affairs and they were able to articulate their opinions maturely and respectfully. Many of them used Newsela (without any prompting) as a source of information, and even took part in their poll. Fantastic! Following their enthusiasm, I planned a whole maths lesson around US presidential statistics and the US voting process. They loved it!
But today, as Donald Trump is announced as the 45th President of the United States, I’m forced to rethink. Was my students’ keen interest such a good thing after all? Was I right to encourage it? What lessons will they take from the campaign and the election, now that Donald Trump has won?
It is not my intention to offend, judge or spark controversy. I respect everyone’s views and right to vote in any way that they choose. I also agree that everyone should accept the result of any election. However, this post is less about politics and more about role models. I don’t think that anyone could say that Donald Trump has been a positive role model. Think about his campaign, policies, strategies and temperament. Think about all of those who have been insulted along the way, or lied to. Think about how much hatred and suspicion he has promoted. None of that is a joke anymore. It is no longer entertaining. For Donald Trump, these things were not only acceptable, but stepping stones to success.
As I write this, I am thinking about my guest post for The Learning Scientists. I researched extensively about how much influence teachers have on students. I now ask a new question: to what extent do presidents influence children? Whether directly or indirectly, I assume that the answer is an awful lot. In my opinion, the Obamas have been shining examples to youth everywhere. Now what?
I want to direct your attention to this excellent blog post by Ali Michael: What should we tell the children? I’ll then leave you with two questions. Discuss…
What have our children learnt from this election?
What should educators and parents do about it?
We are studying Trump and Clinton’s various speeches from a purely language and rhetorical point of view in DP English and it has raised some serious issues surrounding role models and what is considered acceptable. The normalisation of his ‘tactics’ and behaviour was also interesting and potentially frightening.
Thanks for the comment. I agree. I would have loved to show the speeches and debates to my students. They were interested and it connected strongly with our persuasive focus. However, I just didn’t feel that it was appropriate for the age of my students, and not the sort of persuasive strategies that I wanted them to learn!