Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Andrea Kayne

Second Advisor

Joseph Gardner

Third Advisor

William Ayers


Many American high school government and history teachers aim to convey curriculum content without bringing in their own personal political beliefs or biases. However, in the hyperpolarized political climate of the past decade, teachers have grappled with teaching their courses when potentially controversial political or cultural issues come up in class conversations or lessons. Their teaching decisions and the classroom environment can have an impact on students’ learning, mental health, and their own views on American politics, history, and culture. This qualitative, narrative inquiry study examined ten high school teachers’ practice of teaching politics in the age of Trump. Findings revealed that although the ten teacher participants from around the country keep their personal political views to themselves, students might be able to tell their political leanings based on tone, facial expression, or course materials. Furthermore, the rise of misinformation and disinformation from social media, cable media, and word of mouth continues to be a problem in the government and history classrooms. Finally, findings also revealed that over the past decade, school political climates have moved left, and fewer students openly identify as politically conservative. At the forefront of the participants’ work is student learning—with an emphasis on teaching students to think, but not how to think or what to think. Through this research, the lived experiences of these ten government and history teachers can help to educate other teachers and school leaders how to teach and lead in divided times, and allow readers of this study to reflect on their own practices.