Content Area Reading #4 -Place for Partisanship in the Classroom?

“Should Teachers Help Students Develop Partisan Identities?” by Diane E. Hess and Paula McAvoy. Social Education 78(6), pp. 293-297

I chose to read this article because I wanted to switch up what I was reading. Since I am a member of the National Council for the Social Studies, I decided to peruse the resources available to me. I decided to look at this particular article because my middle schoolers will be looking at the upcoming election, and I think this article could have some great insights to how I can approach teaching this topic.

This article investigates the extent to which (if there should be any at all) teachers should try to shape their students’ political identities and beliefs.  Below are images that encapsulate the content of the article:



3 Things I Learned that I Don’t Want to Forget

  • 1. Two predictors of high engagement of Americans in politics that really matter: “identifying as a ‘strong partisan’ and possessing a ‘strong’ ideological orientation (liberal to conservative)” (p. 294)
  • 2. “Affective” polarization = “the tendency of people who say that they are Republicans or Democrats to view their rivals as irrational or having evil intentions” (p. 294)
  • 3. Example of Adams High – a good way to help students learn about social and economic issues, debate, develop own partisan and ideological identities

2 Controversial Ideas/Disagree With

  • 1. Teachers creating lessons or courses with aim of shaping students’ political views
  • 2. I disagree with the statement that teachers “should not require students to engage in a political protest.” I don’t think that teachers necessarily have to do this, but I don’t see why it is considered inappropriate. There is such a wide range of issues that students have an incredibly wide variety of things to choose from – there must be some sort of issue that students are passionate about and can engage in. Engagement in itself is a somewhat ambigious term anyone – engagment could come in several forms, including actually attending a protest, writing to one’s representative, creating some form of social media related to it, and so on.

1 Question

  • 1. Is there an effective and engaging way to teach both sides of the political spectrum to a group of ethnically, economically, ideologically similar students? (For example, if you were teaching at an all-white, economically advantaged school?)
Content Area Reading #4 -Place for Partisanship in the Classroom?

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