Teaching Trump: A frame analysis of educators’ responses to ‘the Trump effect’ in American schools

Reid Jewett Smith


This paper offers a frame analysis of educators’ responses to the anti-democratic statements and actions of candidate-turned-president Donald J. Trump. It asks how educators responded to Trump, then answers by identifying three types of frames (motivational, diagnostic, and prognostic) that educators employed to make sense of the Trump phenomenon. Using democratic education theory and frame analysis, this paper finds that educators were motivated by legality, complicity, and morality to address Trump’s anti-democratic statements with students. Educators framed the Trump problem in terms of historical precedent, present danger to democracy, and concern for the future. They framed the solution with new curricula, fact checking, and critical media literacy. This paper argues that educators assert collective democratic agency to uphold democratic norms in uncertain political times.


democratic education; classroom controversy; frame analysis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.28.5331

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