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Local educators use social media to help students better understand Russia-Ukraine conflict

Posted at 9:06 AM, Feb 25, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — As the entire world watches the Russia-Ukraine conflict, local educators are using it as an opportunity to teach world events as they're happening.

Students filing into American Government class are immediately given their assignments.

"Take out your phone, and start learning about Ukraine," said Chris Berry, Social Sciences Department Chair, Odyssey Early College and Career Options.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is top of mind for many of his students.

"We've had other invasions that have lasted 15-20 years but this is the first one I've been here when it started," said Faith Alvey, Sophmore at Odyssey Early College and Career Options.

"I think the most shocking thing to me was seeing how other countries think about getting involved right away. It's not just you do what you're going to do, we'll help later, it's more like this is happening and we're going to help now," said Alana Brown, , Sophmore at Odyssey Early College and Career Options.

Understandably, Brown, Alvey, and other students have a lot of questions about the conflict. They're asking a variety of questions about why the conflict started, Vladimir Putin's motives, NATO, impacts on the economy, and their day-to-day lives.

"I think the one thing that I learned most from or most curious to me was how removing Russia from the Global Economy, how that's really going to affect everything. Not only does that start with cutting them off from the Global Economy but that also means anything that other countries get imported is going to stop while this whole process is going on," said Alvey.

"What we do in times of war with supply because supply is a big thing when it comes to war, and we're seeing that now with the supply of oil. I think that was the biggest thing that helped me understand," said Brown.

"I believe for the students to get engaged you need to tie everything that we're doing into the real world around them. Unfortunately, we're in this situation with Ukraine, and they have questions and they're scared and they don't know what's going on so I want to hit that head-on," said Berry.

He created a Twitter feed to help students navigate the flow of information and gain a better understanding of history as it's happening.

"That feed has all political spectrums on it. Liberals, republicans, democrats, conservatives, famous pundits, and actors. So they get this broad look at what's going on in politics so it's not one side or another. You want to use social media because that's where they learn from and that's where they are. Twitter is so perfect for that because it's 280 characters and they can click wherever they want to and whatever story they want to. It's a good real-time way of studying the world, " said Berry.

Berry says he wants students to understand what's going on in their world, and engage.

"They have the serious questions like gas prices, bringing in the supply and demand from economics, it's always cool when students talk about something from another class. Then the hypothetical questions get really interesting too like what if we just killed Putin and it's really interesting but I'm not a Russia expert. It's still fun to get them speculation and get them talking about it because what it really looks like, is they're looking for a solution," said Berry.

One big question they've had, Who is to blame for the conflict?

"You're trained to say it's this person's fault or that person's fault and I don't want to navigate it that way. It's really important for me to keep my neutrality in the classroom. The students say when they graduate, will you tell me what your political
beliefs are, and I won't do it. I think it's important for me to try to give a balanced approach," said Berry.

"I'm going to take what I learned from this class today and seek out information," said Brown.

Berry plans to take time at the beginning of every American Government class to discuss the conflict.