In the News

Media Monday - A Level Politics Teaching Idea

Mike McCartney

27th September 2020

At the start of the Year 12 Politics course I start to introduce a weekly “week in politics” style lesson.

The plan is that students bring a newspaper article of their choice, and are able to summarise its contents in five key points (in their own words) and therefore present it to the rest of the class, with the aim of initiating discussion. It can’t be stressed to highly that Politics A Level is a living, breathing subject and it is imperative to long term success that students get in the habit (if they haven’t already) of regularly exposing themselves to good sources of relevant news.

Since we are just a matter of weeks away from the US Election Day, it makes sense to have something of a focus on that as a topic. For that matter, it I perhaps a good idea for teachers covering the US element in the Year 2 part of the course to do something similar.

Every four years we say that the US elections are exciting and important and I think this time round we really mean it. No election in recent history comes as close in the context of its historical significance and the difference it will make to the US people. Impeachment, huge ciivil rights protest, covid, uncertainty over the results declaration, and now a vacancy on the Supreme Court likely to be filled before Election Day.

As an example of what is at stake (and there is probably room for a posting on this site about fringe groups), check out this little video segment form Channel 4 news:

https://www.channel4.com/news/anti-racism-protests-in-us-call-to-arms-for-militia-groups-across-political-divide

So this is my suggested article, if students are struggling to identify relevant content at this stage. It is from the UK Guardian, and is a useful overview of the relatively recent developments in the contest for the White House:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/27/recipe-for-chaos-2020-election-threatens-snap-us-already-pushed-limit

For a far more detailed analysis of the psephology of the US political landscape, here are some recommendations.

Larry Sabato, probably the most distinguished academic on a range of US politics topics there is at the moment:

https://centerforpolitics.org/...

Nate Silver’s 538 site here:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/politics/elections/

CNN’s site has a host of articles and videos on the 2020 race:

https://edition.cnn.com/election/2020

With regards to the latter, here is their electoral college for dummies clip:

https://edition.cnn.com/videos/politics/2020/08/12/electoral-college-explained-orig.cnn

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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