It’s part of our daily mission and practice at High Meadow to “provid[e] opportunities to authentically and compassionately participate as a member of a diverse, democratic community.”

As we approach the November 6th elections, the significance of this part of our mission looms large. It’s an ideal time for the young people in our community to experience the meaning and power of civic participation within their own spheres of influence.

This week and next, we will feature some of the unique and engaging approaches teachers are using to explore democratic systems in ways that resonate with their students.

1st Grade

While the 1st Grade does not study American elections specifically, they follow a democratic model of communal decision making from day one. Many classroom decisions — choosing student jobs, the positive timeout space, the dance moves for the “Five Little Pumpkins” performance — are made by student vote. Students get early practice in active democratic participation, and begin to learn how to deal with the feelings that can arise when the majority votes differently than they do.

3rd Grade

In their Science of Music class this week, the 3rd Grade started to work on “walk-on themes” for candidates, the short pieces of music that accompany them as they walk on stage or enter an event. Students were tasked with creating pieces that either make their candidate seem more desirable, or make them seem less so. Next week, they will use these songs in an experiment to test whether music can affect a person’s vote.

7th and 8th Grades

Aside from daily immersion in classroom democracy during student-run class meetings, the 7th and 8th Grades also frequently engage in conversations around local, national, and global politics. What roles do civil rights, bias, and personal choice play in our democracy? How can we use our voices to create the change we wish to see in our communities? Next week, as we anticipate election day, they will study the rhetoric and marketing strategies campaigns use in their print and television advertising, identifying the differences between evidence-based reasoning, logical fallacy, and objective falsehood, a skill vital to informed civic participation.

Next Week…

The election of the Roman emperors, the burning of the bathroom sign-out sheets, the 4th Grade civil war, and more!