Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election-palooza

So first, I'll say that, for the first time in my life, I voted Republican. I'm registered as an independant and have never been compelled to cross over to the Red Side before--in fact, my values and beliefs are still staunchly Democrat (hell, I voted for gay marriage and several other very liberal, progressive issues on the state ballot this year, even as I cast my vote for John McCain). This was, for me, the hardest election of my life and I really didn't make up my mind until the moment that I went into the voting booth. I'm not SAD that Obama won an didn't necessarily have anything against him--I just felt that McCain had more experience and was better prepared to be President.

But still, Obama won (although I was moved to tears by McCain's concession speech and actually shared parts of it with my students--what an amazingly classy and gracious speech)--and whether you like the guy or not, it's an incredibly historic moment for our country. We've done a lot with the election in class, of course, and today for social studies, we just had an informal conversation about the election and its results. Our newspaper donated 25 issues of today's paper to our classroom--and as I held up the front page, with Obama's picture on the front page and the headline declaring his victory, I kind of got choked up again. This is the type of front page that you save to show your kids and your grandkids--it's THAT monumental.

Fifth grade is really a great grade to be teaching during this particular election year--they were only in first grade for the last election and of course have no real recollection of it. This is the first election that's really on their radars--and WOW, what a year it is. For their generation, race and color really ISN'T an issue--their friends are their friends and for them, color doesn't come into play. They just don't seem to have an awareness of it, period (at least, these kids don't). For them, the significant thing isn't necessarily that Obama is our first black President--they just don't understand why we haven't had one before, if that makes sense. The fact that a black President is so "newsworthy" seems to shock them more. Anyway, this whole process, and especially the results, have provided some invaluable teachable moments, and I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity with my students. As a closing activity today, I had them write a one-page letter to their kids and grandkids, just explaining what this moment in history has been like for them--what it's like to see it and read about it and witness it. I look forward to reading their letters.

And one of the coolest things, from a teacher standpoint: on Tuesday, we did an activity on the Electoral College and how it works. Today, I asked how many of them had watched at least SOME of the coverage and of course, most of them had. And they were so excited: "Miss K, we actually knew what they were talking about when they were adding up all those numbers and stuff!" LOL. That's pretty awesome, though. It's always great when something you're teaching actually sinks in and affects them.

13 comments:

anna said...

I'm so happy that my guy finally won! After voting for the losing guy the last two times, the only times I've been old enough to vote, it feels great to have my pick win! Sorry to those who picked the other guy - I've felt your pain!

It won't be an easy 4 years starting from such a low spot with the economy, world relations, wars, etc. But I really feel that Obama will do the best job anyone can right now.

We can feel Hopeful again, instead of fearful!

Nik said...

Wow Jen, I'm kinda shocked to hear that you voted for McCain. I would never have expected that. This election was definitely a moment, no matter which side you're on. Amazing,really. It just bothers me that it took so long for more people to get out there and vote. In the end I had to go with McCain too.

I almost feel sorry for Obama though. He's got so much riding on him and if he makes any mistakes or doesn't come through, people are gonna lay into him hardcore. I'm also afraid for him. It's beyond awesome that we finally have our first black president, but there's a part of our population that's not ready to accept that. They've already foiled a couple of plots and I hope and pray none of these ignorant idiots ever tries anything.

I'm still fearful to be honest.

Jen said...

It's interesting that you bring that up, Nikki--I had one of my kids ask me yesterday, "Why are people say that someone might shoot Obama?" So we talked about that in class, too--I compared him to MLK Jr in the sense that a lot of people weren't ready to accept what he stood for, and although more than half of the country voted for him and WANT him to be President, there are others out there (both in this country and others) that are not ready to accept a black President.

I have to tell you, I also got kind of a bad feeling in my gut as I watched his acceptance speech. I pray that I'm wrong, but I don't know...I'm kind of worried that something might happen, too

Renee said...

I'm worried for him, too.

I voted for the very first time in my whole life on Tuesday. And sadly, I could have just as easily been blindfolded. I just do not care. Maybe if the candidates had been different I would have cared more, I don't know. I just think they're all lying bastards anymore, and it just doesn't make that much difference to me. Sorry.

But speaking of kids and their understanding of it and stuff, I HAVE to talk about something that appalled me on Tuesday. Brent's school (K-3) held mock elections in the library. I went in that morning to help out and you would not BELIEVE the shit I heard from these little kids! One kid said to me, "I'm voting for John McCain because my dad told me that if Obama becomes the president, he'll take all the kids' candy away from them! I told all the kids in my class, so they're all gonna vote for John McCain, too." WTF?! WHY would a parent tell their kids something like this??? I could not believe it.

And then, Brent came home on Tuesday wondering if we knew who the next president was yet and we told him not til much later that night. He was visibly concerned about something, so I asked him what was wrong. He said that Obama won the votes in their school and his friend Jaden was crying at school because his parents said if Obama wins they're moving out of the country, so now he was all concerned that he would be moving out of the country. COME ON. Does no one watch their mouths in front of their kids? It's ridiculous.

lotusblossom said...

URRRGGGG> I know what you mean Renee. John told me a few weeks ago that one of his classmates said that Obama wanted to end the war because he is
Musslim (spelling?). He then stated that if we voted for him the arabs would blow up new york again!. I feel so sorry for kids who get poor information and lack of explantaion from their parents.

I took John to the polls with me and we watched the debates together.
The whole time I was there this song kept going through my head,
"you can vote however you like".
those kids got it.

anna said...

Oh Renee! I'm so happy and excited that you voted! I've been afraid to ask, thinking that you might not have. I'm so glad that you did! The people and women who fought and died for your right to do so I'm sure are looking down on you in pride and happiness! Thank you for going to the trouble to do it!

sparkydiva said...

ok...what have i missed about renee???

Jen said...

Just that she's never voted and we all rocked the vote and got her to register and actually vote this year

sparkydiva said...

yay renee! that's awesome!!!

Renee said...

LOL. Thanks. I still feel like it doesn't matter, and I'll probably never be interested in politics, but I know it is important to vote :-)

sparkydiva said...

it ALWAYS matters! it matters that you research the issues, decide what is important to YOU and to YOUR life, and that you stand in line and vote for the person who can potentially make a difference (hopefully for the better). THAT is what matters. keep voting!

Renee said...

Yeah, but that's what I'm saying-- half the shit they say they're gonna do will never happen. And some of the shit they say will never happen, WILL. Six in one, half a dozen in the other, for me. This time, anyway. Like I said, maybe different candidates would have stirred more passion in me.

Jen said...

I hear what you're saying. I remember getting "screwed over" the last time I voted in Mich, for governor (I went with Granholm, the Democrat, who promised to make education a priority--and then cut funding when she was in office. Now maybe a lot of that wasn't EXACTLY her fault, cuz there was a deficit, the funding the STATE was getting was cut, etc--but I was like, DUDE. Not cool.)