From the Capitol riot, to impeachment, to the ongoing pandemic, it's a lot for anyone to process, especially for young people coming of age during this tumultuous time.
America's high school classrooms have become the place for young people to explore these life-changing events, discussing them in-person and virtually in civics class. History and current affairs teacher Kate Kennedy says her students are worried about the country's future. "There's a lot of anxiety,” she says. “It's just a matter of giving them a space where they feel they can safely kind of talk about their feelings.”
iCivics is a non-profit that gives guidance to teachers on how to talk to students about events like the Capitol riot. Chief education officer Emma Humphries says while teens may feel like this is the most divided time in U.S. history, it's important to give them context. "The beauty of being a social studies teacher is that you're a historian and so you can go back and talk about other contested elections, you can talk about other constitutional crises that our country has faced,” she says.
18-year-old student Raneen Rehani says talking about current events has impacted her and her classmates. "Because these things are happening around us and we're surrounded by it, we don't have the ability to really escape it. So, the only way to really go about it is to dive into it,” she says.
Rehani says the last year has made her peers more politically engaged and more motivated to be a part of the solution. "It's very hard to not be upset about what has happened in our country,” she says. “We have to rise above it, we are the ones that need to promote change."
Rehani is hoping her generation can spread unity by demonstrating it.
Teachers also say they're instructing students to get their information from credible sources instead of relying on social media.