Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vote On The Debates!!

America magazine’s special election blog needs your students!

After each debate, we would like to get immediate reactions from students: Who won? The students can select in advance the student or students to whom they will email or text-message their verdicts. The tellers can then email or text-message us. We will put the results up on the website immediately and will alert your local newspapers also!

For the information to be even more meaningful, and for students to better understand the effects of debates, we suggest that before the debates, teachers poll the class on which candidate they support. If this is done, in addition to the question “Who won the debate?” we can ask “Who do you support now?” If there is an increase or decrease in support for a given candidate, the students will see the power of debates to affect elections. If there is no such change, the students will see how our political judgments are often more deeply rooted than will permit us to change our allegiance on the basis of a single debate. There is a value in both alternatives: We should be open to new information, but there is also a difference between being grounded in one’s opinions and being close-minded. Where to draw the line? And how do the presidential debates illustrate the difference? These are interesting and important questions that this exercise can open up.

So, if you are interested, please let us know by emailing us at:

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