Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Look Back to Primaries in 1968

With all the primary chaos going on this year,  it has been a government/U.S. history teacher’s dream for provoking thoughtful class discussion.  It’s the perfect opportunity to include some discussion of other key election years, particularly the Democratic Primaries of 1968.   


This article from the Stanford Political Journal is slanted, but provides some nice parallels to the Democratic primaries this year.  There is also this article from PBS, which gets into the convention itself.  Finally, this article from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics on the changes Democrats made to their process after the 1968 election. It includes a great explanation of how the Democratic delegate selection works.  


Some classroom ideas might include the following:


  1. Divide the class into thirds, with each group reading a different article.  Students can then hold discussion about each article’s information/perspective.  
  2. Read the articles at home or in class and hold a discussion about the parallels between the 1968 election year and this election year.  Students might be asked to hypothesize what might happen at the Republican Convention during a very divided year.  
  3. A third activity might involve students reading the articles, holding a discussion, then redesigning the convention/primary/delegate system for one of the political parties.  

I teach alternative education, and my students aren’t always known for their enthusiasm for history and social studies, but this has proven to be a topic of conversation they are initiating themselves.  I also teach five subjects simultaneously (World History I and II, U.S. and Virginia History, U.S. and Virginia Government, and Economics and Personal Finance) and this provides a topic that can be connected to all of those subject areas in some way.  

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