A Debate: Election 1860
United States presidential election of 1860
Held on November 6, 1860, this American presidential election saw Republican Abraham Lincoln defeat Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell. The electoral split between Northern and Southern Democrats was emblematic of the severe sectional split, particularly over slavery, and in the months following Lincoln’s election (and before his inauguration in March 1861), seven Southern states, led by South Carolina on Dec. 20, 1860, seceded, setting the stage for the American Civil War (1861–65). (excerpt from Britannica.com)
Eighth grade students were selected to act as a "candidate" and each had one "supporter" who provided an endorsement during the debate as well as a campaign manager who created a campaign poster. While history tells us who won election and where the issue of slavery fell, the students were tasked with researching their candidates without this knowledge. Taking the opinions and political stance of Lincoln, Breckinridge, Douglas, and Bell to the debate floor.
Mrs. Anguilla was the debate moderator, asking questions of the candidates and allowing their supporter a chance to voice their opinions as well. The discussion took a fun, heated turn as candidates called each other on their answers to questions, bringing up challenging topics and holding each other accountable for their choices for the country moving forward.
This year, the 8th graders are integrating Junior Scholastic into their History curriculum. "Captivating articles get students thinking about today’s news and why it matters to them. Each story comes with easy-to-implement teaching resources that save planning time and build social studies and language arts skills."
Classroom debates allow our students to work cooperatively, brainstorm, and research to support an opinion, sometimes being asked to take the other side of the argument. Through research, students are asked to, not only find answers, but seek the appropriate questions, with the idea that you need to know both sides of the story in order to have an educated and informed conversation.
These debates are held throughout the school year and range in topic from current events to those of historical significance, allowing students to become more proficient in public speaking, researching and writing skills, and they encourage strength and reasoning their communication skills. We believe our students should have the tools necessary to express their opinions in a strong and respectful manner, making sure they are heard and taking into ownership their individual learning experience.