Friday, November 09, 2012

Homeschool Moments: Political Education

A major election always causes a distraction from homeschooling, but it also provides lots of opportunities for homeschool moments.  I'm not just talking about teaching my kids how the electoral college works, or why it's important to be an educated voter, though.  This election cycle we ended up focusing on political discourse and how to converse with and about political opponents.

I know I'm getting old, but elections seem to be getting nastier and uglier.  This one was pretty bad.  On facebook, on blogs, in casual conversation, people spewed nastiness with abandon, never thinking that someone might disagree with them.  People posted assassination threats on twitter (were they joking? who knows?) and put up facebook statuses saying that "no real _______ would vote for __________" (fill in your own. I've seen it applied to both sides: woman/Romney, American/Obama.)  Or "anyone who votes for _______ is a __________ " (fill in your own profanity-laden description of a stupid person). 

So my young teens see this, because we encourage them to read the news, read political blogs, engage with appropriate adults on facebook. (Appropriate meaning people we know.)   We do have "safe" sites that have good articles to read, but no one can control comments, and telling kids "don't read the comments!" rarely works.  And so they are exposed to this spewing because sometimes even people we know and like find they can't follow that old adage "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." 

And we have to talk about why this is wrong and how to express their own opinions without denigrating and demonizing their opponents.

It's been quite an education for them. They are a bit disillusioned about a few people they like and respect but who couldn't keep from making nasty, unnecessary comments, or from using language that used to be taboo in polite company.   They're learning about media bias and about the way people form opinions and can't be swayed from them, no matter what evidence is presented to them.  They're learning about what's important to people (not always a happy lesson, sorry to say). 

They'll be able to vote in the next Presidential election, and the lessons aren't over yet!  But at least we have a little break from it now.  On to other things!


Sandy said...

Sadly, learning that people we love and respect sometimes hold views that we do not love and respect and communicate those views in less than Christ-like ways is an important lesson. How do we respond when that happens? How do we choose who we will listen to or who our friends will be when people we have always looked up to disappoint us in a major way? Good, but hard lessons. PS- Having a really hard time reading the verification words to leave a comment.

James said...
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Marbel said...

I don't expect everyone to communicate in a Christ-like way. It would be nice if there would be some respect, though.

By the way, I'm not talking about having differing opinions. I like to expose my kids to different opinions. It's the way people disagree that's bothering me.

I hate this new word verification. I think I'm going to remove it. Sometimes it takes me 3 or 4 tries to get them right.