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How can I get my students to have a good conversation about Donald Trump? They seem to be really emotional about him and aren't usually citing much evidence.

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Can you blame them? Heck, I get emotional about all the damage he’s caused to our society. My population of poor kids of color and immigrants can’t possibly be expected to be rational about him. I’d pick another president to give evidence for. Many are too close to gut wrenching situations his policies have put them in.

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Regardless of how your students view Trump, it’s hard to have a real conversation about current political office holders— especially with high schoolers— especially when the stakes are high. At this point in their lives, teens really long for independent thought, but they are still the product of the belief system they were brought up with. So, they (inadvertently) become entrenched in their ideology, that the only logical thing to do is become defensive of their opinion. For now, it will be emotional, but one day, they’ll be able to articulate why they believe what they believe. Rational arguments come with maturity. Maybe, they’ll be ready to approach the subject later in the year.

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I teach AP US History. So this topic comes up a lot. And I embrace it. I teach in a predominately Hispanic community and when you mention Trumps name it can bring a lot of trepidation in the students. What I have done is we spend the first 5 min of class talking about present day political issues. We have an open forum. We did this for the shootings, gun control, immigration, etc... as a teacher I’m 100% careful not to let the kids know my personal beliefs because it’s my job to let the kids find their own political identity. If an issue is heated we usual look up the facts together and discuss the merits of each issue. This is something that can be done in AP because these students are level headed and care about facts and don’t let emotion get in the way. In a cp class it be hard to do.

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Maybe bring up certain past presidents who are similar—US Grant and corruption or Andrew Jackson and his ignoring of the Supreme Court/Trail of Tears, etc. packing the Supreme Court...those issues in the past and see who connect the dots to today? 🤔

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Ditto

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It’s hard. I really don’t know how I feel about the current political situation and bringing it up. I’ve mediated a variety of hot topics in my science classroom but it’s easy to bring it back to “just the facts”. Debate on politics is challenging. I don’t envy my coworkers in the government/history fields. Keeping it current and relevant is so important. Good luck on this one.

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I wonder if, rather than having a vocal conversation about him, you can conduct a digital one. Perhaps on google or a hangout that you create that has a topic, they write a claim about the topic or hi or whatever, evidence provided and cited to support that and then either post digitally or on poster paper and kids can do a gallery walk, posting comments on the digital platform or post it notes around the room.

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