Young Republicans and Democrats…by default

5th grade students viewed a recap of the presidential debate via CNN Student News.

I’m a part time 5th grade reading tutor/teacher’s assistant at an elementary school. I saw something very interesting today at work. I was grading papers and the teacher called everyone’s attention to the front. So I stopped what I was doing and decided to check this video that she was setting up. On the projector I saw CNN Students News. Of course, I really got interested since I’m a Broadcasting major. I thought the kids were going to see students/interns doing their thing at CNN, but I saw something instead. It was actually coverage from last night presidential debate between President Barak Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

The enthusiast news person highlighted some of the topics they covered and even showed some clips from last night’s debate. I’m thinking, “Do these kids know what’s really going on besides America trying to decide who will be our President for the next four years?” We’re a few minutes into the video and I’m scanning the room for glazed over faces of boredom and random doodling at their desks, but all 21 pairs of eyes were glued to that screen up front. Here’s what really got my attention though. As the clips are shown, one guy would come up on the screen and I heard some cheers and even saw some fist pumps. Then the other guy would pop on the screen talking and I saw thumbs down and even heard, “LIAR!” I thought, “Wow. Now that sounds familiar, but among kids???”

Biases are easily formed especially among children. However, in a situation like this, I really hope these kids are asking questions at home and getting the facts…I hope. I think it’s wonderful that they are interested in the political process. But what I saw today seemed to be mimicking of what they see and hear at home. Would it be too much to explain to them what’s really going on without overwhelming them? I mean afterall, they are in the process of learning about colonies and which wars formed America.

One of the kids asked me who I’m going to vote for and at first I was going to keep it to myself, but I told him and he gave me a 5th grader approved nod and fist pump to match. His classmate sitting next to him just kinda shrugged his shoulders.

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