Talking About the Election in Class

How do we talk about the election in class?

Thoughts by Keally McBride, Professor of Politics and CTE Co-Director

I spent a few hours talking with other Politics Professors from around the country yesterday about how they were talking about the election in their classrooms. Here are some ideas:

  1. This may be the first time students have had their hearts broken by the electoral process. But everyone has had that experience. Give them some perspective, tell them about your experiences in this regard, and how you dealt with it.

  2. Give them some space to vent privately, on paper, during class. You should acknowledge that different people will be impacted by the election results in different ways. Honor their need to have space to have feelings, and to have personal experiences.

  3. Open the classroom for dialogue. Many students will not want to talk yet, but create a space for talking. Point them towards other spaces for talking with one another, for instance the Politics department is having a forum on Monday, November 14th at 4 pm in the Getty Lounge to talk about the election.

  4. Have students write down one principle, issue, or cause that they want to work towards, or organize for. Affirm their ability to make a difference, and that their engagement in the world is necessary for their future. Acknowledge it will not be easy, but change is preceded by individual commitment.

Further Resources

  1. Listen to this faculty interview with Candice Harrison (History), about how she creates the space for contentious conversations in her classrooms. While they do not directly refer to the election, Candice's insights may be helpful discussing the election.
  2. Vanderbilt Center for Teaching created this "Teaching in Response to the Election" blog post.