We both believe that the job to be educators is not to tell students what to think but teach them how to think on their own so they can make their own decisions.
MOSES LAKE – Big Bend Community College students get to participate in mock scenarios of different parts of the American Government in Political Science 202.
Instructors Chris Riley and Webb Waites teach the five-credit course together and have taught various courses together for over 10 years at Big Bend.
“The students see a friendship, they see good natured bantering, they see differences in politics, but they don’t know what either one of us stand for because on every issue we’re taking different sides,” said Riley.
“And both of us move from side to side on an issue in class,” Waites added.
The course focuses upon the institutions which form the governmental structures of the United States. Students take part in activities and discussions intended to broaden their understanding of what it means to serve in government and the importance of the role government plays in the functioning of the country.
There are three mock scenarios during the quarter: the U.S. Senate, the National Security Council and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Riley said that the number one thing he hears back from students is that despite having a great time role playing, they do not want to go into politics. Riley and Waites explained that they think it’s because students realize the complexity.
“They realize that it’s difficult to get what they wanted passed, for example in the Senate, in the way they wanted it because of competing concerns,” said Waites.
Waites and Riley said they work hard to ensure their students aren’t aware of their personal political beliefs so that the students aren’t influenced by them in the class or otherwise.
“We both believe that the job to be educators is not to tell students what to think but teach them how to think on their own so they can make their own decisions,” Waites said.
He also said that they stress to students that it is okay to be wrong, because that is how one learns, and it is okay to have different opinions than others.
“We wanted our students to see how you can have a debate without getting angry, without getting upset and without thinking the other side is evil,” Waites said.
Their Political Science course is being offered during the Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 quarters.