by Samantha Daugherty and Emily Dottle
November 3rd is a date on every American’s mind, and students at Shenango are no exception. Thanks to social studies teachers who are actively educating them about the upcoming election, students have a place where they can freely talk about their opinions.
“When we start to learn more about the differences of people, start to find more of the similarities and are educated on it, I think it makes it a lot easier for people to realize that we’re all people even despite our differences,” freshman social studies teacher Mrs. Merryman notes. One way she helped her 9th grade students to see this is through a political compass test to help them understand where they stand on topics. Through both Socratic seminars and classroom lectures, she works to ensure her students understand the opposing opinion just as well as their own.
Mr. Cooper’s AP government class completed a project to try and help the entire school body fully form their own opinions about key issues that will influence voters in this year’s election. “The class is going to be divided in half and talk about the main issues, and then we’re going to film that and present it to the rest of the school,” Mr. Cooper explains. “The students can hear the different viewpoints from each candidate and then we’re going to have an election within the school.”
The teachers mentioned how their biggest goal for this election season is to keep the discussions as polite and considerate as possible. “[I want my] students to find evidence to support their opinions and back their opinions, but do it in an appropriate way of listening to each other,” Mrs. Merryman comments. “[I want them to] at least hear someone else’s differing perspective and acknowledge that there are differences without necessarily attacking each other.”
Miss Shields, sophomore and junior social studies teacher, also talks about how she prioritizes open-minded conversations in her classroom. “I think the big thing is creating an opportunity for respectful discussion.” She thinks one of the biggest issues for students is strictly listening only to social media. Miss Shields advises students to “try not to stick to just social media because there’s probably a way bigger story than just that.”