The 2012 Presidential Election is right around the corner. Should history teachers be spending valuable classroom time teaching students about the election process? I think so. This may be the last time students hear about a Presidential election from a teacher before they enter the ballot box as adults.
You can go here to the History Channel to see a video with David Eisenbach that discusses how technology has changed the voting process. Over the years, technology innovations have moved us from the early pure democratic forms used in Greece and verbal voting methods, towards later forms of mechanization that produced some great innovations for timely counting, but also created the problem of hanging chads. Eisenbach ends the video alluding to a potential voting revolution via the cell phone, like American Idol. If teachers can get students as excited about the presidential campaign as they are about Idol, we may be able to work towards getting more people interested in the political process.
If you are looking for ways to discuss with your students the process of American voting, the Learning Network from the New York Times compiled a list of web sites, to include lesson plans and other graphic and interactive web links to help teachers incorporate learning about the election process into their classrooms. The electoral map here would be a great way to graphically depict how the electoral process works, and to open up discussion about difficult topics like what happens when there is conflict between popular and electoral votes or to debate whether communications systems have improved the average voter.
What are you doing to teach your students about the election?