My One Political Post (Maybe…)

It has been interesting (to say the least) to juxtapose the two political conventions with the start of classes.  I must admit that my mind draws some strange parallels sometimes, but I am seeing some interesting parallels between the candidates and my students.

2008 Candidates

I should begin by admitting that while I consider myself an independent, I have voted Republican in every election since John Anderson in 1980, with the exception of 1996, when I voted for Bill Clinton‘s Cabinet more than him.  There was a statistic recently that said military officers were primarily Republican, and I fit that stereotype.  So it is a shock to my family and my friends that I have been a Barack Obama supporter (in name and financially) since early in this contest.

So my viewpoint is not without bias.

My online class consists of 21 K-12 teachers in the Visiting International Faculty program, all from other countries spending three years in this country teaching in our K-12 schools across three states, while simultaneously working on their Masters in Education from VCU.  My class focuses on instructional strategies for using the Internet in K-12 education.  This is my second year with VIF students, and I find them delightful and engaging.  Jeff Nugent and I were discussing our Fall classes today and as with most teachers, we are finding a wide range of knowledge and experiences in our students.

This is the first week in which my students post comments in the Discussion Board, and the comments are falling into two categories – despair and hope.  I have to admit that I hit them right off the bat with Michael Wesch’s The Machine Is Us(ing) Us video, which overwhelmed many of them.  It forced them to confront their lack of knowledge about the web.  Some felt scared, others energized.  Some said “Where Do We Start?” and others said “Jump In!”  My role thus becomes one of reinforcing the positive vibes and rechannelling the negative vibes in a positive direction.

So far, I am seeing similar vibes in the two conventions.  I came away from Barack’s acceptance speech energized and excited by his focus on the future and the positive.  I have not been as energized by Sarah Palins or John McCain’s speeches.  They seem to spend more time highlighting the fears and negatives with little focus on issues of substance.  By McCain’s own admission, he was a hell-raising junior officer until he was shot down.  He should be honored for his service and sacrifice as a POW, but he spends more time looking back than looking forward.

I hope this country channels the positive and mitigates the negative as we move forward.  We have survived Millard Fillmore and Jimmy Carter, we as a country will survive either candidate that wins.  But my vote and my energy will be focused on the candidate that appears to thoughtfully move forward to the future rather than shooting from the hip.

Probably my only political post…I intend to reflect more on what my students are beginning to do.  But I needed to get this off my chest!

For those in America reading this, what ever you do, don’t remain on the sidelines – get involved and make your voice heard!

{Image Credit: farlane}