Watching the American election, a thought continued to niggle – how many children in schools in India will get to discuss the momentous event of the day? In many schools, this will definitely be used to spark a discussion about globalisation and politics. But in most of our schools, we will add this to the list of questions that are to be studied for the much misused term ‘General Knowledge”
All day yesterday on twitter, teachers, especially American school teachers were sharing materials and pictures of what they did in class to mark the elections. Some held mock elections in class where each child was shown how to cast their vote on a mocked up ballot paper. They learnt how to structure their thinking for the decision, what kind of questions they should be asking to make the choice, how to mark with accuracy and how to step up – turn by turn – and cast the secret ballot. This is an invaluable lesson in civic responsibility.
Training a whole new generation of voters is a fantastic thing to do, and so wonderfully effective to do it with the election! These are lessons the children will remember for life. Other teachers had discussions in class about swing states. Some ran statistics lessons using the numbers of projected voters on either side. Some used it to discuss volunteering – as many children were involved in supporting their parties anyway.
The election is a giant party with a purpose – and the children learn to have fun while performing their civic duty. And the duty does not start and end with the voting queue or booth, No, the duty starts from demanding answers from the candidates and goes up to choosing the lifestyles and economic leadership that they want for themselves.
Sounds terribly distant for India, but this is how one builds a democracy. Each child is a citizen of tomorrow, and will have the power to change the world in small and big ways. If the teacher does not show them the tools of democracy, who will?