Election 2020—A Teachable Moment

The 2020 election has been a teachable moment for Civic Circle students and audiences on several fronts.

Students in our after-school workshops have learned firsthand about three of the seven “steps to democracy” at the heart of our program: resolving conflicts peacefully (Listen!), discerning the truth (Learn!) and voting (Choose!).

In one sense, peaceful conflict resolution (Listen!) is at the heart of democracy. We choose our leaders through a peaceful transfer of power, not through violent overthrow. The current administration’s violation of many of those norms, which typically include a concession speech and help with the transition, has opened the way for discussion about why those norms matter. (The Civic Circle does not endorse any candidate or party, but uses current events to illustrate lessons about democracy.)

Truth and facts (Learn!) have also been top of mind for students trying to make sense of this election. Students in our workshops have examined contrasting photos of protesters holding signs that say alternately “Stop the Steal!” and “Count Every Vote!” Which narrative is accurate? Students have discussed the difference between making claims about an election on Twitter, and defending them in court, where witnesses swear an oath to tell the truth, and where the rule of law holds.

The debate over voter fraud and counting votes has been a living illustration of why every vote matters, and how voting is the central expression of rule by the people. (Choose!) The students age 8-13 in Civic Circle workshops have a savvy instinct for what’s really happening, and who will occupy the Oval Office come January.

In several virtual performances before and after Election Day, Civic Circle Teaching Artists Nick Newlin and Uasuf Gueye shared our original democracy songs with children and families, including Uasuf’s new hip-hop song about voting. Big thanks to The Washington Revels and Carpe Diem Arts for inviting The Civic Circle to both its Community Sing and Family Fun Night IN this month, and to Montgomery College for invitations to join MC Votes for its Virtual Party to the Polls, and to perform for preschoolers in its Early Learning Center.

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