Using the Debate to Teach Politics

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The first of three debates aired last night...

And millions of Americans tuned in.

Among those, were citizens who aren't even old enough to vote.

At Robinson Middle School, one teacher is using the current election, as an educational tool.

"The first debate will be tonight, it will be about domestic policy, what is domestic policy?"

These seventh graders might not be old enough to vote...

But they'll be prepared to once that time comes.

"We've just been learning about how you should vote, and what you should think about before you vote, and about the domestic policies and the trade defIcit and stuff," said seventh grader Morgan Nesbitt.

Social studies teacher Michele Rowley is trying to make sure that her students understand the election process.

"I want them to learn to think for themselves, and to have reasons for what they think and support their reasons with evidence and to not just accept what they're told but to think about it themselves and reach their own conclusion," Rowley said.

But rather than have them read out of textbooks, she's using the current election year as teaching material.

"Before you watch the debate, I want you to list 5 issues that are important to you."

Yesterday's assignment was to watch one of the four Presidential debates.

"I will be paying more attention to what questions will be asked and how they're answered, like the delivery or kind of what they say about it," said seventh grader Carter Mitchell.

But the students aren't just observing in this election, they'll also be participating.

Each seventh grader will cast a vote in a mock election for middle and high school students.

"They actually feel involved with it instead of feeling like they have concerns and they have issues but they can't do anything about it, they get to actually cast a vote it makes it a little bit more real," Rowley said.

It's an education, giving them practice, in politics.

"I think lots of people who vote are also influenced, so they kind of just go with the crowd...I don't want to do that when I'm older, because I hope the future's going to be different you know," Nesbitt said.

The next debate will be between the vice presidential candidates one week from tonight.

If your child is watching the debates, rowley suggests that parents accompany them.

She says to communicate with your child, and keep an open discourse about the issues.


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