Teaching the Election: Arora and Duhigg

1 0 1,431

In this series of posts (see also Teaching the Election: Intro and Teaching the Election: Appiah and Teaching the Election: Gilbert) I’m talking about how to teach the election without promoting a single political point of view or allowing students to get stubbornly stuck in us vs. them political positions. The last reading I want to offer is Arora. If you’re using the third edition of Emerging, you might want to select Duhigg instead.

Namit Arora’s “What Do We Deserve?” takes a close look at several models of economic justice in order to answer his titular question. Given that so much of any election revolves around questions of economics (both in terms of the national economy but also government spending and budgets), Arora’s essay can help students to figure out which model of economic justice resonates best with them and then use that to think about the various presidential candidates. One of the great things about Arora is that the models are clearly spelled out and defined, making them easy to acquire concepts that students can use with some facility.

If you’ve moved to the third edition, I would recommend instead Charles Duhigg’s “From Civil Rights to Mega-Churches.” Duhigg is looking at the effects of strong and weak ties on social change but, more fundamentally, he is looking at the ramifications of peer pressure. Using Duhigg in the context of the elections does double-duty: it helps students to think about mechanisms of social change and it also invites them to consider the various peer pressures exerted upon them in relation to voting and the election.

Ultimately, I feel compelled to teach if not the election itself then at least the issues that surround it. And I feel compelled to do so in a way that will equip students to make their own reasoned choices, to vote, and to become fully participating members in the political process.

Want to offer feedback, comments, and suggestions on this post? Join the Macmillan Community to get involved (it’s free, quick, and easy)!

About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.