The right to vote is one of the most important aspects of living in this democratic country, and it need not be a process filled with anxiety. Websites like USA.gov provide all of the nuts and bolts information about registering to vote, but keep in mind that the deadlines for registering are coming soon for many states. If you need an absentee ballot, such as a friend of mine who just relocated to New York City from South Carolina to attend Bank Street, you can easily request a form for your home state online.
A major aspect of progressive education, which goes hand in hand with democracy, is social responsibility. For those of use able to use our voices, we need to consider the voiceless. As educators, that includes children. If we want to truly affect change among the youth, we must realize how our vote impacts them, not just in terms of schools, but also communities, health, the environment – everything!
Educators, I believe, hold a particularly valuable position as role models, and a responsibility to not only educate children about democracy, but show them that it is alive and maintained by our involvement. As part of Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s credo for Bank Street, a list of potentialities most desirable to be developed in humans included “a striving to live democratically, in and out of schools, as the best way to advance our concept of democracy.”
An election year is a special opportunity for those of us in classroom environments, such as myself, currently a student teacher, to foster democratic thinking. This can be as simple as creating an activity for a class that requires everyone’s opinion, and it can be done with any age group! Even in a Pre-K, small children are capable of voting on their snack preference, as one example of a seed lesson on democracy. And it’s never too early to teach children how to respect differences of opinion. You may be preparing a future voter, or who knows, maybe even a president.