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.
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!