During this week’s Presidential debate, many teens were probably watching the Bears game or playing video games, or doing anything besides watching the presidential candidates.
That wasn’t the case for eighth grade students at Wood Oaks Junior High school.
Not only did they watch the debates, they took notes so they could discuss the complex issues during class on this week.
The students’ discussion took place as part of their social studies curriculum, which addresses global issues and global perspectives with an emphasis on America’s role in a changing world, said Gella Meyerhoff, one of the Wood Oaks social studies teachers taking part in the activity.
“They are learning what it takes to participate in a democracy,” she said.
The students in Meyerhoff’s class sat in a circle and took turns discussing aspects of the debate, making sure they were cordial while listening to other students’ opinions.
The discussion included: trade agreements with Latin America, the inclusion of American flags on the candidates’ lapels, the geo-political threats to this country, the trade deficit, and the effect of our trade agreements with China.
This scenario played out in all eighth grade social studies classrooms at the school.
Teachers are hoping that the discussions will help the students learn an important civics lesson, and also provides them with skills that will help them at Glenbrook North High School and beyond.
“It’s the idea of empowerment,” Meyerhoff said. “This helps them understand that their opinions matter.”
As a side benefit, Meyerhoff added, the activity ignited discussion between the students and their parents. Parents reported a high level of student engagement with the debates and the issues.