Driving home from school, listening to the radio, we hear a story about the ways in which one presidential hopeful doesn’t play nicely with his peers.
Despite our choice of news outlet, we still hear about this person more than the other candidates, more than international news, … just MORE.
My daughter wants to know why he was elected.
“He wasn’t elected, he wants to be elected.”
“So we still have the same president?”
“Well, they hardly ever talk about the president anymore, and everyone talks about this guy.”
Yup. This guy. He certainly has a talent for being talked about.
(I’m not saying that. A lot of people are asking me, and I’m just repeating what a lot of people are saying. It’s not me that’s saying it.)
Lo and behold, in the New Children’s Nonfiction Section of my local library, I found this gem:
Written by Edward Keenan, author, journalist, talk-show host, and (sigh) Canadian, the book explores politics in its many forms beginning with children around the world who created widespread change, to dictatorship and revolution, to the power of the free press.
I learned (or, ahem, remembered) more reading this book than my kids did – it’s intended for grades 5-8, so it ended up being more of a discussion with me asking questions like, “What would happen if the city wanted to tear down our house to build a highway?”
I also love the Canadian-ness of it: “Does this proposed solution seem likely to work?” (with “work” understood as; for a logical reason that meets the will and needs of the nation at large, lol.) Basically, The Art of the Possible removes all the cynicism and divisiveness from the political process, and leaves a good, clean, thorough civics lesson behind.
Something better than winning
The kernel they did take away from the book, even though they were tired of my pedagogy after a while, was that digging down in your own argument short-changes both sides, and that making your fellow citizens, classmates, or – yes! – even siblings your enemy can lead to gridlock and poor outcomes (like the loss of the Wii.)
They’re not activists yet, but I feel better-equipped when questions arise. And from now until November, there are bound to be more questions.
If you’re looking for middle-grade activities now that the iciness has set in, look no further than my book, After School – on amazon for only $0.99!