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.