Power & Politics: Understanding Election 2020

How do we, as educators, facilitate healthy and humane conversations with our students about politics? How do we help them develop and articulate firm convictions while listening with an open-mind to people who see the world differently? How will we continue these conversations in the weeks and months after the election as our country sorts out the results, and we chart our path forward?

Episode 1: What's at Stake?

A look at the interactions between citizens and power structures, and how people use their voices and their vote to realize their moral principles and community priorities. We also explore what demographic shifts mean, the rise of energetic and activated groups of citizens, and how the Supreme Court can affect electoral dynamics.

Part 1: Introduction, guiding questions, and vocabulary for all three episodes.

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Part 2: What kinds of citizens do we want our students to be? What kind of citizens do we want to be?

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Part 3: A practical guide to teaching students to listen closely with an open mind and heart.

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Part 4: Multimedia resources to help students understand the social and political forces shaping this election.

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Request this episode's resources with additional slides exploring progressive organizing in the Democratic party, gerrymandered state legislatures, and the Supreme Court.

Episode 2: Democracy, an Ongoing Project

In this episode we explore how our understanding of our founding principles of rights, democracy, and freedom have evolved over time. We consider how citizens have experienced and addressed discrimination and marginalization, and the way advocates and policy decisions have shaped not just the ideas we have about our democracy today, but also the power people have to advocate and participate in democratic policy making.

American democracy has been pushed and pulled; expanded; and rather than locating our understanding of what it means to be in this sort of system together; in the founding, writing, and ratifying of the Constitution, we think of America and our body-politic like a living, breathing organism that’s always changing and challenging itself from within and without.

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Scene on Radio’s episode “An Excess of Democracy” discusses some of the conversations about how much power the people of the country should be given in the form of voting that were happening while the Constitution was being written.

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Download the transcript of the videos "Resources 1-9"

Resource 1: an episode from Self-Evident Media which examines the letter that Benjamin Banneker wrote criticizing Thomas Jefferson for writing about equality and liberty in the Declaration of Independence.

Resource 2: Jamelle Bouie’s article from the New York Times that engages the question of how democracy is an ongoing project in our history.

Resource 3: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Is this America?

Resource 4: The Page Act of 1875 and the Exclusion Act of 1882

Resource 5: Indian Citizenship Act of 1924

Resource 6: The burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown

Resource 7: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Promised Land Speech

Resource 8: Race: The Power of an Illusion, Episode 2

Resource 9: document set from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

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Conclusion: What to expect in Episode 3. Practical tips on how to facilitate constructive dialogue in your classroom.

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Episode 3: An Intersectional Lens

The election may be over, but the conversations must go on. How do we hold space for students who are coming to these issues from very different places? How do we engage students in these topics in ways that can help validate them and lead to constructive conversations across different experiences and perspectives?

The election might be over, but these issues aren’t going away and these conversations must continue.

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An introduction to intersectionality and how it can help us understand how power functions in our political system.

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Audre Lorde helps us dismantle binary thinking and imagine new models of dialogue in our classrooms.

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Some strategies for moving beyond debate and implement new models to engage students and ideas.

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Peter Block introduces us to the possibilities inherent in community.

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Using Patricia Hill Collins and Nikole Hannah Jones to explore American democracy through an intersectional lens.

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What the fight for the Americans with DIsability Act can teach us about facilitating intersectional dialogue about politics in our classroom.

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Thank you so much for joining us for this webinar!

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The Presenters

Eric Schildge

Eric Schildge

Eric is an eighth grade English teacher at the Nock Middle School in Newburyport, MA. He is also the Interim Assistant Director for Outreach at the Mount Holyoke School of Professional and Graduate Education (PaGE). He is active in organizing for unions and political campaigns, and he has experience working in independent, parochial, charter, and public schools. He collaborates with artists, writers, actors, journalists, and other creative professionals to bring learning to life for students. He believes in the power of live theater to build community and transform people's lives.

Lawrence Riddell

Michael Lawrence-Riddell

Michael Lawrence-Riddell has been an educator for the better part of the last three decades—from his time as a summer camp counselor, to an elementary school teacher, to a middle school teacher for the past fourteen years, to his current position as executive director of Self-Evident Media (www.selfevidentmedia.com). He loves learning and he loves teaching. While at Wesleyan University, Michael majored in African American Studies and was actively involved in anti-racist activism on campus. It is when Michael is able to marry his passions for learning, history, social justice, and a better future that he is his most fulfilled. Michael brings these passions to his work at Mount Holyoke and through this work he hopes to shift the ways that we use our honest understandings of the past to shape our understandings of the present and the future. In the words of James Baldwin, "...I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further, that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.”