Teaching and learning in institutions of higher education is occurring, unavoidably, within the broader civic context of today’s extraordinarily polarizing political times. In Canada, public consciousness has recently been buffeted by a contentious 2019 federal election process; taken in the further light of the US’s 2020 presidential campaign, and global tumult spanning the horizon immediately beyond, we seek to help our students situate themselves with respect to, and assess these points of profound contention, without ourselves contributing to exacerbated polarization. We aim to offer students in our first-year exploratory political science course a vital tool—critical rigor—for navigating, but not being inundated by the storm. This paper discusses our experiences in teaching our course, “The Worlds of Politics”, as we have attempted to help students meaningfully engage in cognitive processes of critical analytic thinking, without undue infringement from their own, and least of all our, personal political biases.
A Compass During the Storm:
Offering Students Critical Rigor for Polarizing Times