Ring Mountain Day School middle school students joined students from around the country last week to participate in the My Voice National Student Mock Election.
The National Student Mock Election has been engaging students in the democratic process for 30 years and 18 elections. With such a close race this year between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, this was the perfect year for Ms. Gough, Ring Mountain's middle school Social Studies teacher, to go through the process with her fifth to eighth grade students.
Ring Mountain middle school’s discussion-based approach to learning is specifically designed to engage students in civil discourse and participate in a democratic society. As Ms. Gough says, “The cornerstone of a functioning democracy is education - citizens must not only understand how to educate themselves on the candidates and issues, but they must also learn how to work together and talk about issues even when there is disagreement among them. Discussion-based learning, especially in the context of a Civics and History education, helps students to build these essential skills - in effect, they are learning how to participate in a democracy, even
as they are learning about our democracy.”
Before casting their votes, they spent several weeks studying the candidates’ positions on important issues, analyzing and designing their own political ads, viewing the debates and making predictions about swing states. Throughout the process, the fifth and eighth graders created and updated their own wiki site with student projects and events related to their discussions about the election.
On the day of the vote, students excitedly lined up outside their classroom as Ms. Gough registered them one by one and sent them off to vote. Students were voting for president as well as rating issues that are important to them like the environment and the economy.
Sixth graders Sinead Thomas and Julianne LeFurgy both said of the process, “Usually just our parents get to vote and we listen to what they say, but this time we took what our parents know and learned a lot more. Then we got to use what we learned to make the decision ourselves.”
When voting closes on Tuesday, Nov. 6 (it has been extended for students on the east coast), schools will have the opportunity to share and compare their results. Ring Mountain students will be able to analyze whether their predictions were accurate on a national level as results come in for both the mock and official election. Stay tuned for an update when the results are in!
Ring Mountain Day School is a K-8 in Mill Valley serving students from San Francisco and Marin.