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Sunday, November 13, 2016

No Room for Hate: Responding to a Trump Presidency

Chris Lehmann sent out an impassioned plea to Trump supporters and others to speak out against hate. He asked his "tribe" to openly share his words, words I hope you'll share and words that opened my mind to the acts a Trump presidency has promoted for some.

As I think of this, I am grateful for the ongoing work our school system is committed to, work including the following:
  • Our school system educators and administrators were wise to begin talking about and planning for this election in late August. I believe, overall, we prepared our students well with regard to thinking about all points of view and gaining a good developmental understanding of our democracy and electoral process.
  • I am fortunate to work in a multicultural school which has students who represent many religions and cultural backgrounds. It is clearly our role to teach in ways that reflect all of our students with sensitivity, truth, and inclusion. Teachers in our system have spent countless collective hours focused on anti-racist, multicultural, and culturally proficient teaching and learning. Our students profit from this broad and sensitive lens. 
  • As a collective teaching/learning team, we understand that this work is ongoing as we reach out in multiple ways to push each other forward in this regard. That will help us to work against hate and to build a more inclusive, collaborative, thoughtful teaching/learning community.
I worry about schools, educators, and systems that are not embracing these efforts in an ongoing way. I wonder if there are some schools and educators who are far removed from the call to address issues of racism, multiculturalism, and equality due to the size of their schools and geographic/economic/cultural make-up, and I'm thinking what might happen in those places to make a positive difference when it comes to inclusion and overcoming hate and prejudice.

Similarly, I'm wondering about our national divide and how we might make a difference in that regard. Is this divide due, in part, to the fact that many schools have lessened their focus on the study of social studies and history? I know that Massachusetts is re-embracing and rebuilding these standards, standards that have been lost with the heavy CCSS focus on skills rather than knowledge and understanding of deeper, more comprehensive values, knowledge points, and discussion.

In the past, our schools spent substantial time on current events, the history, facts, and stories related to many cultures, and other themes that relate to how we live today and in the past.

I'm also wondering about how we might bridge the gap between the diverse geographic and cultural regions in our country. One idea I have in this regard is Semester Midwest for East and West Coasters. During Semester Midwest, students from East Coast and West Coast high schools and universities would study in the heartland for a semester. Since I'm one who truly loves the beauty and history of the heartland, I believe this would offer students a potentially less crowded experience where they might have the time to think more, come together as a group, and learn about our nation's wonderful heartland history, natural resources, and lifestyle. Similarly, students and citizens from Midwest schools could have experiences on the coasts. This is just a beginning idea, one that I think could grow into greater intra-country share and exchange to build a strong national understanding and respect for one another.

In the meantime, I'll continue to think about how I might contribute to teaching/learning communities close at hand and more distanced with regard to the theme of "No Room for Hate." What ideas do you have?