Teaching civics in an age of TrumpTeachers are using the tumultuous election to reawaken Americans across the political spectrum to how vital civic knowledge is for making government truly by the people, for the people.
By Josh Kenworthy
Nov 16 2017
—When some of Nathan McAlister’s middle school history students claimed President-elect Donald Trump was going to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office, he used it as a teaching moment about the checks and balances of US government.
He did the same when others said Hillary Clinton would take away everybody’s guns if she won.
As Mr. McAlister watches the protests over Mr. Trump’s election unfold on television, he muses on the current level of civic knowledge among young people across the political spectrum.
“We’ve lost, I would say, 10 to 15 years of good civic education and historical thinking skills for students – it’s almost like we’ve turned our president into a monarch,” he says. “Think about it: They assume the president has all this power, and that’s just not reality.”
But as the nation continues to feel the aftershocks of a tumultuous election, McAlister is teaching his class of mostly rural conservative white students and Native American students at Royal Valley Middle School in Mayetta, Kan., to overcome the ignorance and incivility that some see as partly responsible for the tenor of the campaign.
Like McAlister, some teachers are using Trump’s election to reawaken Americans across the political spectrum to how vital civic knowledge and skills are for making government truly by the people, for the people. Efforts range from a multi-state push to make high-school students pass a civics quiz before they receive their diplomas to online gaming platforms that explain to students their rights as citizens.