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更新时间:2016-10-22 8:33:34 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Teaching Seventh Graders in a ‘Total Mess’ of an Election Season

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Maybe it’s the talk of fat shaming, or adultery, or sexual assault, or bans on Muslims and walls to keep out Mexicans. But Brent Wathke is having a rough time teaching this presidential campaign to his seventh graders.

威斯康辛州奥克莱尔市——也许是因为涉及肥胖歧视、通奸、性侵、禁止穆斯林和修墙阻止墨西哥移民入境的话题。总之,布伦特·沃思科(Brent Wathke)发现自己难以给他的初中生们讲解今年的总统选举。

He is not planning to show his students the third presidential debate on Wednesday; he feels the debates have long ago crossed over into inappropriate. Television ads, particularly the ones from Hillary Clinton’s campaign that heavily quote Donald J. Trump, are filled with misogynistic comments. Even political cartoons, which Mr. Wathke would have liked to use to teach his students about the delicate art of satire, are too risqué.

他不打算把周三晚的第三次总统辩论放给学生们看。他觉得此前的几场辩论早已少儿不宜。电视广告,尤其是那些希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)团队大量引用唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)原话的广告,充满了厌恶女性的评论。即便是那些沃思科本想用来教会学生关于微妙的讽刺艺术的政治漫画,也太有伤风化。

“It is a total mess,” said Mr. Wathke, 33, sitting in his classroom at DeLong Middle School one morning last week, near a dry-erase board where he had scrawled “25 Days to Election” in a red marker. “Honestly, I just can’t wait until it’s over.”

“今年的大选是一团糟,老实说,我巴不得它马上结束,” 上周的一个早上,33岁的沃思科在德朗中学他的教室里这样说道。他在白板上用红色马克笔写下“距离选举日还有25天”。

Mr. Wathke is one of countless teachers across the country who have anguished over the dark and sometimes shocking tone of the presidential campaign. Like many, he has searched for ways to talk about it in class. Some teachers are planning mock debates before the election; others, like Mr. Wathke, fear that the format could invite students to spout insulting rhetoric.


His students, most of whom are 12 years old, have been buzzing with talk of the campaign all year. The first group of students poured into the classroom just before 7:30 a.m., clutching notebooks and binders, and sat in desks arranged in circles.


“I believe if Trump is elected, it’s going to be like ‘The Hunger Games,’ ” said Payton Foy, prompting nervous giggles around the room. “I’m not trying to be mean to Trump. I just really believe that.”

“我相信如果特朗普胜选,局面会变成‘饥饿游戏’一般,”一名学生佩顿·弗伊(Payton Foy)说道,“我不是要对特朗普刻薄。我只是真的相信是那样。”他的发言在教室里引起一阵局促的笑声。

Another student piped up, saying she had watched the second presidential debate the night before. “And?” Mr. Wathke asked.


“It was bad,” she said.


He grimaced. “I don’t want to shield you guys from that, but there are some things in there that just aren’t appropriate for school,” he said. “So we’re going to stick to the issues today.”


Mr. Wathke has spent down time on evenings and weekends worrying about the effect of the campaign on his seventh graders. In Chicago on a recent weekend to run his 13th marathon (he is also one of the school’s cross-country coaches), he read the news that an “Access Hollywood” microphone had captured Mr. Trump on a bus bragging about groping women. There was not time for Mr. Wathke to consider the political implications; his mind raced ahead to the coming Monday morning.


“All I’m thinking is, ‘How am I going to approach this?’ ” he said.


His students said they have also wondered what they were allowed to say about the campaign in class. “We self-censor a lot,” said Connor Felton, 12. “I think if you repeat some stuff that Trump says, you could get sent down to the principal’s office. Maybe even expelled.”

他的学生们说,他们也在想,关于这场大选,有哪些话可以在课堂上讲。“我们经常自我审查,”12岁的康纳·费尔顿(Connor Felton)说。“我觉得如果你重述一些特朗普的言论,你可能会被叫到校长办公室,甚至可能被开除。”

Here in Eau Claire, a retail and manufacturing hub of 68,000 people in this crucial swing state, children and teenagers are most likely exposed to more political messages than most of their peers in other states.


Campaign ads and yard signs are everywhere; both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump have held rallies in town this year. Mr. Wathke said he gets nervous when he hears that his students are planning to attend rallies. At Mr. Trump’s rallies, the candidate has used foul language and mimicked a reporter with a physical disability. His supporters often wear T-shirts with crude sexual slogans referring to Mrs. Clinton.


In Mr. Wathke’s own classroom, he has aimed for civility. A native of Eau Claire with a polite manner, he was once a student at DeLong, where he now teaches in the same classroom where he learned social studies. Now, those walls are plastered with campaign signs, many years or decades old: Bush/Quayle ’92, Dole for President, Irish Americans for Kerry/Edwards.

在沃思科自己的课堂上,他想要的是礼貌。沃思科是土生土长的奥克莱尔人,举止彬彬有礼。他本人也曾就读于德朗中学,如今在他当年上社会研究课的同一间教室教书。现在,教室的墙上贴满了竞选标语口号,都是几年前甚至几十年前的:“布什/奎尔 1992年”,“选多尔当总统”,“爱尔兰裔美国人支持克里/爱德华兹”。

This semester, Mr. Wathke and his five social studies classes have been talking about politics — delicately — since August. He is teaching his seventh graders about the three branches of government, how democracies work and the differences between Republicans and Democrats.


Since he feels that free-form debate is risky, he prepared his class to discuss the campaign using “Socratic circles,” separating students into small groups. The students were armed with work sheets, filled out before class, answering questions he had posed. What are the most important issues facing the country? Where do the candidates stand? Which candidate would be a better president?


At the beginning of one discussion, he laid out a warning. “We’re going to be talking about some topics today that can get a little tricky today and a little heated,” he said. “But we want to make sure we’re being respectful of one another and we’re not hurting feelings. Remember when we watched some of that debate? And there was one thing that was the most annoying thing? The interruptions. We don’t want interruptions today.”


At the end of one discussion, Mr. Wathke looked relieved. “I want to say that you did pretty darn good,” he said. “You avoided the memes you see on social media. You stuck to the issues.”

一次讨论结束的时候,沃思科看上去松了一口气。“我想说你们做得真不错,”他说。“你们回避了在社交媒体上看到的米姆,坚持讨论议题本身。” (米姆 [meme],指作为一种流行的、以衍生方式复制传播的互联网文化基因,可以是卡通形象、动物、当红视频等——译注。)

His approach: Tread lightly and let the students move their own discussion. If the conversation in class turns inappropriate, step in.


“The campaign is ruining a lot of classes,” Mr. Wathke said. “You have kids saying, ‘We need to have a wall to keep Mexicans out.’ Well, what do you do if you have kids who are Mexican in the class?”


That kind of conversation in the campaign arouses anger in some of his students. “Racial profiling is going way back in time,” said Donna Xiong, 12. “I don’t think it’s O.K. at all. If I got kicked out of a store for being Asian or for my skin tone, that’s not right.”

大选里的这类谈话让他的一些学生感到生气。“种族定性(racial profiling)已经存在太久了,”12岁的当娜·熊(Donna Xiong)说。“我认为那是完全不对的。如果我因为是亚裔或者因为我的肤色而被赶出一家商店,那是不对的。”

Gabriel Morken, 12, said he believed the Black Lives Matter movement was one of the most important issues. “Donald Trump thinks it’s really bad,” he said. “Hillary wants everybody to be equal and stuff.”

12岁的加布里埃尔·莫肯(Gabriel Morken)说,他认为“黑人的命也是命”(Black Lives Matter)运动是最重要的议题之一。“唐纳德·特朗普认为是坏事,”他说。“希拉里想要的是所有人都平等之类的。”

DeLong has a history of holding mock elections, and for as long as anybody there can remember, maybe 20 years or more, the students have chosen the candidate who later won the presidential election. This year, the mock election will be on Nov. 8.


After a group of his students filed out, Mr. Wathke said he never knows quite how much campaign news they have absorbed on YouTube and Snapchat, where they spend so much time. He assumes they see everything.


A few weeks back, he decided to show them a Romney-Obama debate from 2012, for a contrast. “I thought I’d show them what a typical debate would be like,” he said. “The first response was, ‘That’s kind of boring.’ ”

几周前,他决定给大家放2012年大选时米特·罗姆尼(Mitt Romney)和巴拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)的一场辩论,作为对比。“我想我要给他们看看一场典型的辩论是怎么样的,”他说。“第一个反应是‘好无聊啊’。”