Social Studies Department Chairs: Sarah Oliphant and Jon Grogan
With only a few weeks until the presidential election, students in their social studies classes will focus on why local and national politics matter to them and the core principles of democracy. We want to emphasize how lucky we are to be in a country where we have the right to vote and where the people can choose their political leaders. This election season will offer teachable moments that can help students build the skills they need such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and evidence-based reasoning. Taking the time to learn and practice these skills will encourage students to become lifelong civic-minded advocates, and become informed and engaged members of their communities.
Kindergarten lessons will focus on the qualities required of a president, and voting activities will be completed in the classroom. Conversations in first through fourth grades will center around the democratic process, our responsibility as citizens, and the history of voting rights. We will discuss the history of voting for women and minorities, and how these issues have evolved over time. The process of respectful discussion and listening to opposing opinions will be emphasized.
Earlier this month, students in the Upper School, fifth through eighth grades, were empowered with voting rights to elect student council members. Each student had the opportunity to vote for classmates they thought would effectively lead their grade this school year. Each candidate gave a one-minute speech either on Zoom or in person. They were asked to stick to topics that would encourage community engagement, create school spirit, and cultivate a positive school culture. Voters were encouraged to think carefully about how their vote could impact their school experience. The Student Council voting process acts as a starting point for our future American voters.
Student Council voting, although a direct democracy (unlike our national system of representative democracy), offers a foundation for our national voting process. Throughout the voting season, students will examine the United States democratic process. Students will be given opportunities to gain a better understanding of the election process in the United States, with the eighth graders studying the Constitution, voter rights, and the Electoral College.
Learning about the electoral process in every grade will encourage our students to become adults who value voting and see it as their civic responsibility.