Teaching world events in real time

Andrea Savage
Posted at 6:48 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 14:22:01-05

GREAT FALLS — The Russia-Ukraine conflict is all over our social media pages, newspapers, and televisions, and will undoubtedly be making its way into future history books. And as we are living through history teachers and professors are finding themselves in an interesting situation with having to teach such an important topic in real time.

For college-aged students this topic is incredibly beneficial for all types of different subjects. I spoke with economics professor James Lautenschlager about the economic impacts that this situation is having on his classroom.

“In my microeconomics class it’s interesting because as we are talking about economic principles we see the consequences of things that are happening, and it’s really nice to be able to show the students in the classroom that this is how it applies in the real world,” he said.

And economics is just one of the many subjects that can be taught about this conflict. History instructor Benjamin Donnelly is also benefiting from being able to teach his history class coinciding with history in the making.

“It's actually perfect timing because in my geography class last week we were talking about Russia,” said Donnelly. “And now this week in my history class will be talking about World War II.”

Teachers and parents of younger students are struggling to find ways to help make this more understandable for their kiddos.

I talked with Andrea Savage, the mental health coordinator for Great Falls Public Schools, about the best way to go about a conversation.

“it’s important for us to talk about it and to normalize the fears, their anxieties, even their depression around these really huge big topics,” said Savage.

Great Falls has a unique connection to world events - a large number of military personnel. One thing that Savage is seeing in more recent times is the fear of young students whose parents are in the military.

“When you’re younger and you are hearing that, 'Oh, we might go to war,' that’s something that can affect a lot of families here in Great Falls,” she said. “And I think the best way that anyone can really go about this is to talk about it and normalize people's anxieties about the current situation.”

According to Savage, conversation and validation is key to helping anyone through this time of anxiety.