Things have been a little quiet on the blog front lately, mostly because I got a little behind in my grading. I do not usually procrastinate when it comes to work-related tasks, but when I do procrastinate, it’s bad. I think I’m caught up enough to write a brief post about my government classes the last two days.
The first presidential debate is tonight, and I know that a lot of my students, while having good intentions to do so, probably will not watch the debates. So I plan on showing portions of the debate in class tomorrow. To prepare students for watching the debates, we’ve read and discussed a bit about Obama and Romney’s views on healthcare, the national debt, and taxes. Now, to be sure, there are times when this is a frustrating process. But to my surprise, the last two days of class have flown by because the students are generally very enthusiastic about and engaged with the issues. Some of them have very strong opinions on the issues and candidates (often mirroring what they hear at home), while others are honest in saying they don’t know enough to have strong opinions one way or the other. Two students, who never say much in class, asked if they could take the debate books we were using in class home with them to read more. Another student, after claiming again and again to be a Romney supporter and a strong Republican, walked away saying that he wasn’t sure anymore, that he was questioning himself and both of the candidates’ proposed policies. Yet more students stayed after class to ask me questions, and I could almost see the proverbial wheels turning in their heads as they thought things through. It was fun and exciting to see. And you want to know what’s really great? There’s no assignments or grades attached to these lessons; it’s just good old reading, discussion, and thinking. I think sometimes we attach assignments and grades to things unnecessarily, killing students’ enthusiasm in the process. It’s good to remember that not all learning needs to be measured, at least not right away. Sometimes students need the opportunity just to learn for learning’s sake.