Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
With the 2019 Trump impeachment proceedings having been wrapped up in the House of Representatives and moving on to the Senate, let us continue with our discussion of effectively teaching the impeachment process in the social studies classroom. In a highly politically polarized environment, emotions are high as it relates to impeachment. As it stands, President Donald Trump is now the third president in United States history that has been impeached. In a highly divided country, one group argues that the proceedings were fair and impartial and the opposing side argues that the process was rushed and a complete sham.
An appropriate and effective lesson on this topic must be fair and balanced. It is not the job of social studies teachers to share their opinion and or nudge their students toward a particular political position. A good social studies classroom is one where the instructor can help students become informed citizens by providing them with the intellectual resources and materials to think for themselves. In the case of impeachment it is helpful for students to learn the process and then try to assess the situation on their own, with guidance from the teacher of course. The Choices Program (housed in Brown University’s history department) provides resources for teachers to teach their students about civics. In their article entitled The Impeachment Process and President Trump, they offer great resources for effective discussion of the impeachment process in the classroom. In a note to instructors the authors offer this advice:
“In the current political climate, discussing the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is likely to elicit strong responses from students who hold differing opinions. Before you begin this lesson, you may want to review our resource guide, Teaching about Controversial Issues: A Resource Guide. It is important to establish guidelines before beginning this lesson. You may also find it helpful to reach out to parents beforehand to let them know how you plan to approach this topic objectively and respectfully. Consider teaching this lesson over the course of two or more class periods. You might assign the introductory reading as homework the night before to leave more time for media source analysis in class, followed by a class discussion.”
The article allows students to do a robust lesson on the impeachment process that is somewhat unique. The lesson has several layers leading students in a balanced discussion of impeachment. It explores historical precedents for impeachment, reviews steps for source analysis, leads students in a pro-impeachment inquiry and then an anti-impeachment inquiry and lastly the lesson leads students in a discussion on media source analysis.
More Teaching Resources on the Impeachment Process and President Trump
Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
When I was in school, I don’t remember being taught much about impeachment. I’m glad this article is here to help clear some things up and better educate me on the topic. When teaching about politics, it can be hard. I find that some teachers find it difficult to separate their beliefs from the classroom and then that leaves it open for everybody to talk about their political stance. It’s a tough topic but its one that can easily be navigated if given proper thought.
I had little understanding on the impeachment process before reading this article. After reading it I feel like my knowledge and understanding has been widened.
I enjoyed this article because it stated that good history teachers are able to teach about the impeachment process and other politics without giving their students their political beliefs and affiliation. This is done way too often in the classroom. Teachers need to learn how to separate their political affiliations from the classroom so that they are not encouraging their students to believe one way or another. I remember my high school history teacher talking about her political beliefs in the classroom but never gave us the option to express ours. I hope we have less future teachers that are like that and are there to teach the material and not influence the children.
It can easily be said that in this time frame in 2020, political opinions are charged and emotions are high in relation. Even though we want people to have the same opinions as we do, Dr. Childs gives a great perspective on the responsibility of a teacher to give non-biased lessons. Education is pertinent in times like these, and I feel that it is the best time to learn concepts that are relevant, because it provides the best types of learning. I learned about impeachment years ago and had to research the process when it all began this past year, but for children learning these concepts during an actual impeachment, I feel that the material becomes tangible and presents an experience that a teacher can’t normally cultivate. Times are changing, so I pray that our children are raised to be the best informed and responsible adults they can be.
When learning about the impeachment process in schools, they gave us the idea that if you were impeached that you were automatically kicked out of office. Therefore, I never really understood the impeachment process and when the article said that Donald Trump is the third president to be impeached, I was a little confused because he is still in office. I like how this article informs us on the different ways to teach about the impeachment process without using biased opinions, I think we should teach more in depth on the impeachment process so that we can understand how the impeachment process actually works.
I agree with Dr. Childs on how we can use this event to teach our students on the impeachment process. A lot of social media posts during this time showed a lack of knowledge on civil studies and how this process works. It is important while teaching on this subject, to be impartial and just focus on the process and its history. This will allow the students to come to their own conclusions on the subject and help build on critical thinking skills.
I enjoyed reading the first article written on the Impeachment process and this just provided some extra support. I liked the thought about how teachers are there to tell their opinions but instead there to help their students be informed. Teaching students to use the information given to them to make their own decisions is a skill that will be valuable for a lifetime.
I really enjoyed this article as it provided several good resources to explain the impeachment process. Another annoying thing I see on social media from this topic is that people believe that Trump being impeached from the house means that he is removed from office. People need more education on this topic. Though I may not agree with the current president and his current actions and policies, I do wish the general public was educated on this process