Certainly, the general tumult of reality during the past year has presented challenges to educators. In my 7-8 Social Science class, I find myself consistently confronted with the daunting task of trying to lucidly explain that things aren’t always like this, especially to a group of students who are formulating their own initial impression of politics and history, as they should. Just in the past two weeks, and amid the ongoing calamity of a pandemic, they’ve witnessed rioting at the U.S. Capitol, Congressional discrediting of the election process, and the second impeachment of a sitting president. To cap it off, since I also experienced my first mandated quarantine as a close-contact last week, I found myself leading class over Zoom while the Alders were (mostly) in-person, on campus. It was a bit like a sci-fi novel, truly, my face projected on a screen to ten students wearing masks, while four others piped in through a Google feed and therefore appeared as small icons within an iPad atop a tripod. Thankfully, Katie was also there to help run the logistics, and, despite the dystopian backdrop, I was quite impressed by how my students took the circumstances in stride and engaged in civil discourse. We watched a live stream of the rules process in the House prior to the impeachment debate (which had not yet begun), and they listened for the key points made by both sides. Over the semester, we’ve emphasized the careful consideration of multiple perspectives, formulating interpretation based on fact and credible sources, and refraining from politicized reaction, however tempting. And the students accomplished those goals admirably. They already knew the outcome the House would eventually reach, as determined by the predictable math, and they understood the prospect of some 10-20 Republicans voting against party lines (it turned out to be 10). Likewise, they knew that they, too, would be offered a chance to cast their own vote as a form of analogue. They listened to the partisan debate among impassioned adults, synthesized the main arguments made by each side, presented them in clear terms, and asked questions about the larger process. “The Democrats stated that the president is responsible for the insurrection at the Capitol, and that he presents an ongoing danger, even though he’s leaving office soon.” To which others added: “The Republicans argued that the longer, usual process of impeachment is not happening, and that a second impeachment will stir up more social unrest.” They were poised and confident in delivering their accurate summaries, and they asked useful follow-up questions. “Could the President be sued after the impeachment? How long might it take to get to the Senate, and does the Senate need to hear it? Could the President receive additional punishment beyond impeachment?” Such answers are complicated, so we spent some further time in discussion, as they patiently endured my struggles with the audio feed. Then, one brave student produced the final question that I’m sure had been on all of their minds: “Do we need to provide our reasoning for our own vote, or just our name?” Answer: “You don’t need to provide your reasoning, although you may if you’d like. But, do put your names on your vote, simply to mimic the House members. Since you are not representing any voters, however, your individual votes will not be made public. Katie and I just want to make sure we get one from each of you. So, if you’re online, write her a quick email, and if you’re in the room, write down your vote on a piece of paper; then, take a break before your next class.” It was calm and deliberate, thoughtful and consequential. Each student decided at their own pace and quietly submitted their answer. About half added their reasoning, some for each side; the other half just their name and vote. I didn’t hear any heated exchanges, much less vitriol or hyperbole. There were no broken windows, no threats made, nor punches thrown. Unequivocally, they were not a mob. They were individual, smart kids making their own decisions, understanding the gravity of the real world. They gave me great hope, reminding me, without needing to state it outright, that things are not always like this.