LaNesha Tabb is a full-time educator who conducts workshops and keynotes where she encourages teachers to think outside the box by implementing globally and culturally relevant ideas into every lesson. She specializes in literacy, writing, and infusing social studies education into daily lessons. In this blog, LaNesha helps set the stage for the 2020 presidential election by offering her insights and tips on how to approach teaching the election process to elementary students.
When I think of teaching in an election year, I'm thinking about little kids all the way up to high school. It's one of those things where it's, in my opinion, so critical to get social studies and, specifically, civics education in front of students as soon as possible.
A few years ago, I remember reading the results of a Constitution Day quiz put out by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, and I was astounded at the results. Some of the questions asked Americans to name all three branches of government—and only a third of the people surveyed could do that.
There was another question that asked respondents to just name one right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Only about 33% of the people could name a single right guaranteed. It made me chuckle at first. And then it made me really sad, because it shows what happens if we wait until senior year to put an emphasis on civics, which a lot of schools do. For so many high schoolers, government and economics—two of the most important subjects that we need as functioning adults—are smashed down into just one semester.
Knowing that, I'm always trying to think of ways to include civics in my elementary classroom, because the results of that quiz aren't super surprising to me. Thinking back on my own civics education, I remember a sprinkling here and there, maybe in middle school, but then it was really that high school class. And by then, I was halfway checked out because I was headed to college. I didn't want to sit there and learn about civics! But I'm a kindergarten teacher now, and I'm thinking about how I can put these concepts in front of some of our youngest students.
And what better way is there to do that than to lean into the things that are going to be happening during an election year? So I've got some tips that I'd like to share with you.