Wednesday, March 09, 2016

"Vote For Me!"

The kids in our 4-5's class are by now quite familiar with voting, both in principle and practice. We've voted on group decisions large and small. We started the year using an actual ballot box, but then shifted to raising hands. Lately, however, we've shifted again to "voting with our whole bodies," which means that the "Yeas" sit on one side of our checker board rug while the "Nays" sit on the other. If there are more than two choices in a particular election we use corners. It's a great way to really visualize the concept of voting.

The children themselves call for votes quite frequently over all manner of disagreements and have shown a propensity to accept the will of the people. There is, however, typically a robust debate prior to the actual voting. There is cheering from the side that wins and some hang dog moping from the side that loses. There is usually some campaigning, especially now that we've settled on full body voting, with sides attempting to lure voters from across the aisle, sometimes with persuasive arguments, but often with inducements like the promise of play dates. There are some voting blocs and coalitions that tend to stick together, but those can be scuttled for any one issue.

In other words, it is in many of the particulars exactly like the way we adults do politics, albeit without the vitriol and name-calling. 

Yesterday, as a group of kids were building a "zoo" out of Duplos, the subject of the President came up. They all seemed to know that the current president is Barack Obama and a few of them were even aware that there are candidates currently vying to replace him. At one point, Desmond turned to me and said, "Teacher Tom, you're the president of this school."

I said, "Well, your parents kind of vote for me, but I'm not your president. You guys never voted for me . . . But if I was the president, I would make a rule that kids could have as much candy as they wanted any time they wanted. And every day would be your birthday. And kids would get to drive the cars."

Desmond was beaming, "I would vote for you!" Then they all started calling out, "I would vote for you, too!" "Me too!" My message was certainly resonating with this focus group.

I added, "And there would be ice cream for breakfast, water slides in every park, and grown ups would have to stop taking liberties like pinching your cheeks or picking you up when you don't want to be picked up."

Desmond piggybacked with a campaign plank of his own, "And they would have to pick you up anytime you wanted to be picked up!"

"Vote for me!" I sense a landslide, although I'm already regretting a few of those campaign promises.

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