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Election Studies

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The election can be a touchy subject to broach in the classroom. In Wisconsin, however, teachers are making an effort to discuss the election with their students, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. A recent workshop at the University of Wisconsin exploring how to engage students in healthy political debate drew 180 classroom and student teachers from 30 school districts across the state.

David Ross, a government teacher at Madison High School, has his students talking about campaign issues that are not for the faint of heart, including same-sex marriage, abortion, and health care. His students are required to research the positions before taking a stand on them. “Some of it gets a little rough,” said Ross. “But on the other hand, there’s a lot of learning and growth that can happen if they don’t feel attacked personally.”

His students are mostly supporting Obama and the school’s Young Democrats club is thriving. Ross has had no luck reviving the Young Republicans club, which was active last year.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that in 15 of the last 17 presidential elections students have predicted the outcome. Who appears to be the winner this year? According to Scholastic’s straw poll, taken once every four years, 57% of the 250,000 students who voted chose Senator Barack Obama and 39% chose Senator John McCain.

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It is my experience that students tend to repeat what they hear at home ... which might explain the accuracy of their results and not bode all that well for McCain ....

The presidential election provides a wealth of learning opportunities for students.Research, speaking, writing, debating, propoganda, compare, contrastand much, much, more. The most important factor is that the teacher does not influence the discussion with personal opinions about the candidates and sticks to learning opportunities.

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