Voicing the Facts, Hearing the Opinions

David Barrit, a social studies teacher at Castle View, spoke on how political voices affect the classroom and how to bring students together instead of apart

The last election was controversial with many opposing views. This can cause people to lose relationships with friends and weaken bonds with family. Teachers are tasked to navigate situations like these alongside students. Mr. Barrit is a social studies teacher and he talked about how to navigate touchy subjects like politics and the election. 

I think it’s hard for any teenager to think about a world bigger than his/her immediate bubble — it doesn’t matter what type of population you’re working with. Part of the fun of teaching social studies, in particular, is providing a glimpse into other people’s experiences, my own included (from my time in New York or Denver). It’s hard to imagine how even small differences in communities can lead to extremely different ways of viewing the world,” Barrit said.

Barrit believes It’s important to have difficult conversations on things like politics and beliefs. This will further our understanding of others and their thought process.

 “I love when students get passionate about things we talk about in class. I try to model respectful discourse in class and demonstrate how to engage in healthy discussions. If they’re being respectful and open-minded with their opinions, it’s all good,” Barrit said.

Barrit tries to structure his class to further encounters like these, respectful, but still thoughtful.

“As long as the topic fits with the curriculum and the goals of the course, I think it’s valid. With experience, you start to learn how to frame and present particular topics in a way that discourages offensive or knee-jerk reactions from students. It’s possible to talk about controversial topics without being deliberately controversial,” Barrit said.

It seems when people are polite and inoffensive any topic is on the table.

“If students can ask the right questions, and can responsibly and accurately discern evidence, I think I’ve done my part,” Barrit said. 

It seems that maybe if you can sit down and give someone a chance to speak their mind you may find there is more in common than it is different.