Junior year, I took U.S. History with Mr. McKenna. It was quite different from a regular history class because we focused so much on current events. Mr. McKenna was incredibly passionate about politics, however, his views often focused on only one side of the story. He has strong Democratic beliefs and loved to share his perspective with the class. Coming from a Republican family myself, this could be challenging. Because I live in a Democratic state, my beliefs are frequently debated in classes, however, in this case, it was an everyday occurrence. To make matters more complex, I took his class during the election year.
At the beginning of the year, I felt frustrated. I would listen to everything Mr. McKenna said, but only argue back inside my head. I would not respond in class, but waited until lunch to talk to my friends about politics and how Mr. McKenna’s statements made me feel. When I went home, I would discuss current events with my dad and sister, who would both help me think of ways to respond. Towards the end of the first semester, I became more familiar with the election and got up the courage to share new current events with the class. Then, when Mr. McKenna would say, “Romney said this,” I would raise my hand and respond, “Well, but didn’t Obama say that?” I did not want to seem like I was arguing with the teacher, so I would strategize ways of saying what I meant. I just wanted my point of view to be heard.
By second semester, I was a lot more involved in politics. I wanted to have more facts and knowledge so I would fully understand what my teacher was referring to in class. I asked lots of questions and researched more into news stories. At the end of class one day I was the last one to leave. As Mr. McKenna was locking the door he told me that he appreciated my increased participation in class. I was really proud of myself and my hard work.
Looking back, I see how much I learned from this experience. Hearing arguments from both sides of the political spectrum gave me a fresh perspective. Debating political issues taught me so much, and also opened my mind and sharpened my skills. As I improved, I was able to debate without getting too personal or negative, and understood how to analyze and present my ideas in the best way possible.