An educator’s voice: We can use this election to inspire our students

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Guest writer: Gina Daniels
H.S. social studies teacher
Blacklick, Ohio

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Donald Trump proclaims that he is qualified to serve in the highest executive position in the land. But in this election season we have heard Trump refer to women as “fat pigs” and seen him mock a reporter with a disability. We cringed when he insulted a Gold Star family. We have witnessed in our communities and even in our schools how his words perpetuate hate and advocate violence. It’s no wonder our children think politics is a dirty game that they want no part of.

A big part of my job as a social studies teacher for the past 16 years has been to teach students about our beautiful democracy and all the blessings of liberty it grants us. I educate future citizens. I teach them as much as I can about the past, our political system, and the world around us, and then I send them off into the world hoping they will contribute as productive citizens.

ginadaniels2
Ohio educator Gina Daniels

Lately, I have started to worry. My students have become more and more disengaged from the political melee we’ve seen develop. My students feel as if politics is a hopeless quagmire. The behavior they’ve witnessed in this election cycle has done nothing to convince them otherwise.

What I want my students to learn right now though, is not how to emulate the corrosive behaviors of people like Donald Trump, but rather how to work together to achieve real, lasting change in this world.

Some of my students will be voting for the first time this year. The rest will be voting in the next election. My students sometimes ask me why they should bother voting, why any of it matters since nothing ever seems to get done. When they turn cynical toward democracy itself because of the mudslinging and caustic language they hear, I tell them to accept the challenge. Accept the challenge that this isn’t how it has to be, and that we can make America stronger together instead of complaining separately. We can make democracy whatever we want it to be. It just takes vision and a desire to make change happen.

Donald Trump’s example is not one I want for my students. It will continue to discourage them from engaging in our political system. Trump’s behaviors – the bullying, harassment, and name calling – are downright dangerous to our children and their futures. Hillary Clinton encourages the American people to stand together instead of divided. This is what we need our students to see and aspire to.

I want so much for my students. I want them to value knowledge. I want them to achieve their own personal success. I want them to find beauty in the world around them. I want them to help make the world a better place. Disengaging from our political process is not the answer. Let’s remind our students that they can make democracy whatever they want it to be. It just takes vision and a desire to set a better tone for our future.

Reader Comments

  1. I suppose that if we want to use Trump as a bad example, fair play ought to use Ms. Clinton as an enabler, two faced liar to the public of the nation, and how to rock a pants suit.

  2. Mr. Lewis, Just by the fact that your racist, misogynistic, and hateful post was printed DISPROVES your post. I’m ashamed sombody would think we are colleagues. Paying your dues regularly is the lowest level of being an NEA member. By the way, what’s she teaching is critical reading and thinking. You might want consider getting some professional development in these areas because you missed the whole point of Ms. Daniel’s post.

  3. As an educator of 31 years and a Life Member of NEA I find this to be the most blatant misuse and outright lie I have ever seen on thus site! This teacher is blatantly teaching her political view which is ILLEGAL! If she was concerned about hiw trump speakes about women she must therefor be eaually concerned about how hillary speakes far worse about those woemen raped or molested by her husband while state attorney general, govenor and president! IF YOU PERMIT THIS ON HERE THEN YOU ARE NOT A REPRESENTATIVE OF GOOD OR LEGAL EDUCATION OF CHILDREN. THIS US BLATANT, ONE SIDED INDOCTRINATION ON THE LEVEL OF MAO OR THE SOVIETS OR HITLER. IT US BLATANT AND INEXCUSABLE. IF YOU GO AFTER TRUMP ON THIS ISSUE YOU HAVE TO GO AFTER CLINTON AS HERS WAS FAR WORSE AND HELPED DESTROY WOMENS LIVES!!!! I am sick of the one sided claim most women’s organizations make n say nothing about sharia law or clintons support coming from people n places that don’t just restrict women but actually beat n kill them for not wearing breaks or require 4 male witnesses to attest to her being raped because if she accuses without those 4 she can be imprisoned, beaten or even beheaded. Hillary openly supports these people n gets support $$$ from them!!! YOU WOMEN WHO CLAIM TO BE FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS N SHUT UP ABOUT THIS ARE LIARS, YOU CARE NOTHING ABOUT WOMEN, JUST YOUR OWN GREED! I am still a teacher but when I was a principal or superintendent or fellow teacher I would have stopped thus wombs illegal instruction, YES, EVEN AS A FELLOW TEACHER!

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