Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Get involved or let go?

Ok so Preston who is in 4th grade comes home a few weeks ago with this assignment to ask his parents which person they are voting for and why, and then why not the other. Then was told he need to stay up to 10:30 to watch the debates and tell what FIVE key points they made and why they where good points.

So in other words what are your parents thinking on this because let's be real here do we really think a 4th graders mind is going to even begin to grasp what he is watching? Now grant you he is in Focus (which is for the smarter kids) but seriously even at that he would get so bored with it. I agree kids should learn about who is going to run there country but in FOURTH grade to be asked to watch the debates? Maybe I am undermining my child's ability to grasp what is or isn't being said here.

To me this draws the line and is not this teachers business. Because let's face it. It is going to be MY paper he is writing. His father is out of town or it would be his paper. So therefore it would be bias.

Anyway.... thoughts on this issue would be helpful


joanne said...

I don't think that is the teacher's business. I don't remember which grade Josh was in at the time but they discussed whichever election was coming up at the time and formed their own opinions and had an in class vote with mock voting booths etc. Even if his teacher wanted him to watch the election she should ask them what their thoughts on it are. Even if it's over their head and they don't grasp all of it because hell I know I don't! But it would be interesting to get their thoughts on it without input from the parents.

Tommy said...

Two thoughts: Grady's 3rd grade class (and the other upper classes) are a part of a county-wide 'kids vote' event, where kids get to cast ballots - which teachers don't see - for President, and they are given the choice of all SIX candidates, not just the two main party ones. Their votes are tallied and each school's, and the county's results are shared with the kids on election day.

I think this is good, but no, it's not the teachers' business. To be very honest, public education is more of a Democrat supported initiative, as most of the private and home-schooled kids fall in the Republican, Libertarian, or Fundy Christian silos. And, since the Democratic party tends to be the one to speak up for better pay for teachers, it's a given most teachers are Democrats. So, there's the risk of a bias there, if the teachers get involved beyond the level of just making the students aware of the election and encouraging them to go learn what they can at home.

Secondly, Nickelodeon is hosting a "Kids ask the President" show on Sunday night where kids in elementary and middle school get to ask McCain and Obama about issues that effect them. It's not a live debate, but I believe the candidates provide pre-recorded answers to pre-selected questions.

I think it's good to get kids involved in understanding there's an election and who is running, but they aren't ready to grasp too many issues. The goal is to get them enthused about the process and engaged so that when they get older, they'll be more apt to vote rather than say, 'eh, politics is boring'.

Yes, Grady is voting for Obama because his mom and dad are, but he's also a U2 fan because his mom and dad are. He'll reach an age of rebellion later in life, go out on his own, and find his own political voice. God knows Maggie will. Gentle seeds can be planted now, but not agendas.

The sad thing is, ask most kids why they would vote for McCain or Obama and their answers are as shallow as many grownups answers, i.e.: 'cause Obama is like a celebrity, or 'cause Sarah Palin is hot!

Maybe it's not our kids that need educating. Maybe it's a good chunk of our generation...

Casey said...

You know, I think kids should be allowed to stay out of politics (school-wise) until they're old enough to develop a viewpoint different than what their parents tell them. I use my daughter as my own personal political billboard sometimes (she's 2), but I accept that she's going to get her own opinion one of these days and it'll probably be different than mine.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, fourth grade is way too young to watch the debates. Maybe the world series would be a better choice, and then perhaps a dog show. :-)

Tommy said...

Totally with you on the World Series, Casey. Kids should be ushered into the Red Sox Nation as early as possible. ;-)