As the culminating final product for the 11th grade US history unit on the presidential election, all 11th grade students engaged in a debate where they researched, represented and advocated the views of all four major candidates on 11/18. Over 100 students participated in a mock Presidential Debate. After spending several weeks studying the positions of the candidates on topics like the environment, the economy, foreign policy, education, policing, healthcare, and immigration, students worked in groups to craft arguments as one of the 4 candidates. Often times students had to defend positions and policies that they themselves disagreed with, highlighting the need for empathy and understanding when engaging in political discourse. Crew leaders from 11th grade acted as moderators and judges, and the debate was lively and fascinating. So proud of our juniors and of John S and Phill G, our US History teachers.
At Brooklyn Collaborative, we are committed to developing young people who are active in civic life. Our mission reads: “With support from peers, staff, families and school partners, students engage in challenging academic and social experiences that prepare them for college level learning and full participation in civic life. Students learn to apply their intellect and effort to benefit themselves and their community.”
In that spirit, many of our BCS staff recently read a NY Times article entitled “The End of Identity Liberalism” which starts with: It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.
The NY Times article then ends with: Teachers committed to such a liberalism would refocus attention on their main political responsibility in a democracy: to form committed citizens aware of their system of government and the major forces and events in our history. A post-identity liberalism would also emphasize that democracy is not only about rights; it also confers duties on its citizens, such as the duties to keep informed and vote.
Brooklyn Collaborative continues to commit not only to help students understand their rights but also their responsibility to be informed citizens.