In a volatile election season, social studies teachers walk over hot coals in every class—but they’re still excited about where they can take students. The contest between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, combined with the coronavirus pandemic and a wave of activism about racial injustice, has affected students like nothing in recent memory. It’s led to a surge in students’ interest in campaigns, voting, and just keeping up with each day’s flood of national news. But memories of the divisive 2016 election linger. Engagement doesn’t mean agreement. And helping students pick out substance over falsehoods as they follow the campaign is more difficult than ever. So how are educators handling the run-up to Nov. 3, and what happens after? We spoke with five social studies teachers about their experiences teaching students about the most crucial and controversial parts of a chaotic election season. These teachers highlighted how social unrest and the pandemic have driven students’ engagement with politics and voting, the importance of news literacy, and the difficulty of having engaging, yet civil, conversations in virtual classes.
Evie Blad, Staff Writer and Andrew Ujifusa, Assistant Editor contributed to this video.