COLORADO SPRINGS — As the entire world watches the Russia-Ukraine conflict, local educators are using it as an opportunity to teach world events as they happen.
Students enrolling in the American government class receive their assignments immediately.
“Pull out your phone and get to know Ukraine,” said Chris Berry, chair of the social sciences department at Odyssey Early College and Career Options.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict occupies many of his students.
“We’ve had other invasions that have lasted 15 to 20 years, but this is the first one I was here with when it started,” said Faith Alvey, sophmore at Odyssey Early College and Career Options.
“I think the most shocking thing for me was seeing other countries thinking about getting involved immediately. It’s not just that you do what you’re going to do, we’ll help later, it’s more that this is happening and we’re going to help now,” said Alana Brown, , sophmore at Odyssey Early College and Career Options .
Understandably, Brown, Alvey, and other students have many questions about the conflict. They ask a variety of questions about the beginning of the conflict, Vladimir Putin’s motives, NATO, the impact on the economy and their daily lives.
“I think the one thing I learned the most or was most interesting to me was how Russia is going to pull itself out of the world economy, how that’s really going to affect everything. Not only does that start by separating them from the global economy, but that means whatever other countries are importing will stop as this whole process goes on,” Alvey said.
“What we do with supply in times of war, because supply is a big deal when it comes to war and we see that now with oil supply. I think that was the main thing that helped me understand,” Brown said.
“I believe in order for students to get engaged, you have to connect everything we do to the real world around them. Unfortunately, we’re in this situation with Ukraine, and they have questions and they’re scared and they don’t know what’s going on, so I want to tackle that head on,” Berry said.
He created a Twitter feed to help students navigate the flow of information and gain a better understanding of the story as it happens.
“This feed covers all political spectrums. Liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Famous Pundits and Actors. So you get a broad view of what’s going on in politics so it’s not one side or the other. They want to use social media because that’s where they learn from and where they are. Twitter is so perfect for this because it has 280 characters and they can click wherever they want and whatever story they want. It’s a good way to study the world in real time. said berry.
Berry says he wants students to understand what’s going on in their world and get involved.
“They have serious questions like gas prices, bring in supply and demand from business, it’s always cool when students talk about something from another class. Then the hypothetical questions also get really interesting, like what if we just killed Putin, and it’s really interesting, but I’m not a Russia expert. It’s still fun to get them speculating and getting them talking, because the truth is that they’re looking for a solution,” Berry said.
A big question they had: who is to blame for the conflict?
“You’re trained to say that this person or that person is at fault and I don’t want to direct it that way. It’s really important for me to maintain my neutrality in the classroom. Students say when they graduate, will you say so? me what your political
Beliefs are, and I won’t do it. I think it’s important that I try to take a balanced approach,” said Berry.
“I’m going to use what I learned in this class today and look for information,” Brown said.
Berry plans to set aside time at the beginning of each US government class to discuss the conflict.