For Michael Danielson, a media literacy teacher at Seattle Preparatory School, there may be no better case study for his 9th and 10th grade students than the 2016 Election.
Featuring the two of the most controversial presidential candidates in history according to ABC News/Washington Post polling
, this election has featured polarizing rhetoric, with details on policy getting brushed aside. News coverage has tilted in favor of memes over substance, creating perceptions of the election feel more like a reality show cage fight than an exercise of democracy.
Seeking to use this political season as an educational moment, Danielson was excited to find the collection of We the Voters short films as a resource to help.
“Although my students are not voting yet, they are very engaged,” said Danielson. The [We The Voters] collection of films gave them the language they needed to break down some experiences in this dynamic and often confusing election.”
Designed to unravel how U.S. democracy works, We the Voters: 20 Films for the People is a nonpartisan slate of 20 shorts designed to inform and entertain voters nationwide with fresh perspectives on fundamental issues surrounding elections. From tackling the constitution, student debt, inequality, healthcare, immigration and social media, the shorts use a variety of styles including comedy, documentary, animation and narrative to address the issues that are on America’s mind.
For Danielson, the films are helping his students translate political rhetoric into actions.
“I showed one short to my students between the first and second presidential debates as a way to teach them tactics the candidates were using to divert and evade questions. The next debate they were able to dissect when and how [Hillary] Clinton or [Donald] Trump used these techniques,” said Danielson.
As a consulting executive producer on We the Voters, Ronnie Krensel’s motivations were classrooms like Danielson’s.
“We were focused on creating entertaining films that demystified the issues. Hopefully young people will pass the shorts around,” said Krensel.
While We the Voters is entertaining its audiences, it’s also inspiring says Danielson.
“These kids are the next generation of voters and are hungry to learn more. The films are giving them a foundation, a chance to engage in the issues and really think for themselves. They’re learning they have a voice and can start thinking about these issues.”
To watch We the Voters
and download lesson plans for your students, go to WeTheVoters.com