Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Talking About Talking About the World

Regarding #WeirdEd- I want to talk about what we're going to talk about. Unfortunately, I'm at the tail-end of my vacation and I've been on the road for days and days with my family and tomorrow, Weds, Aug 23, is the last travel day and I won't be able to lead the conversation we're going to have during the chat. Even with stuff like this, which I wanted to get to last week, family gets put first. I'm afraid this won't be the last time we'll have to talk about it either. But it can't not be talked about. This chat isn't about a section of education, it's about all of it. To turn a blind eye is to admit you're ok with Both Sides talk and to pretend teachers don't have a part to play. I don't care if other chats do it, I don't run other chats. But #WeirdEd is mine and it ours, and the teachers who come to #WeirdEd want to be honest as much as they want to have goofy chats. I tapped Nathan Stevens to run the chat this week because I trust him and he's got interesting views on things. The blog is mine, the questions will be his. Thank you.

The president is unhinged. Let's get that out of the way. I know this because I've been paying attention for the last two years, but also because tonight he gave a speech in Arizona that was a ranting, raving bucket of lies. He's as mad as a bag of cats.

It used to be controversial to say something like the above about the president. People would still say it, but there would be a significant portion of the population who would be like, "Woah woah woah, hold on now. Let's look at this rationally." But now? Nothing you could say would feel like it's far enough. He's openly courting white supremacists. His main cheer leader is David Duke, the former Grand Dragon of the KKK. There are Nazis marching in the streets of America, and he thinks that pretty cool. AND THAT'S JUST STUFF THAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST WEEK.

School is starting again soon or has already started. Students are back in classrooms, teachers are finding new and interesting ways to reach their new and interesting kids, and things are moving along. Curriculum is being delivered. But there's an undercurrent through everything because there's a man in the White House who courted nuclear war on a whim from a golf course. Every teacher, even more than last November, is thinking, "What do I say when he comes up? Or when the Travesty Of The Day happens? How do I handle this?"

There's some great stuff going around on twitter under #CharlottesvilleCurriculum to help with that. Well, part of that. But what about the rest? What about what's coming?

The go-to answer in these cases is Listen To The Kids. Let them talk, let them share. We can't endorse one politician over another, but we can talk about various political positions. We can discuss racism and white supremacy because those are real things that are really happening (have been happening but are now more on the surface than ever), and that's called Current Events. That's in the PBiS lessons, my friends. Bullying, lying, and the like. It's all there. One way or another we're going to talk about it.

We're supposed to provide a view of events that allows students to make their own decisions, right? But this isn't a Both Sides issue, no matter what the Russian puppet says. How could we teach what's happening and not point to the swastikas and say, "This is awful. This is wrong. This was wrong before, it's wrong now, and it'll be wrong forever. There are no two sides to this." There's no two sides when one side's position is, "Most of you don't deserve to live." That's not a side that you need to hear.

I like to think that kids will know that. What will be harder is teaching the white supremacy stuff, because that's in deep. Again, making the classroom a safe space for kids to talk is going to be what starts this process. Teach history, talk about the statues, when they went up and where. This stuff fits into Common Core. Kids should be reading more non-fiction anyway.

Talking about talking about all this is a first step. But it's the easiest step. Reflect, look inside, decide what you'll do when you say the words "white supremacy" to your class in an educational, pedagogical way, and a parent in one of those red hats comes red faced into your room the next day. Is that conversation worth the truth you'll be having in class? It should be. This is probably something administrations should be addressing head-on with their teachers immediately.

Nevertheless, we can't Both Sides this. We can't let evil, actual literal evil that's so evil when a video game or a movie needs bullet sponges the player or viewer won't care about dropping they go with Nazis because who cares, live in schools or in this country.

Education is an inherently political act. Education acts against ignorance, and if you can't see that there's one side building a wall to Keep America Ignorant I'm not sure what else there is to say to you aside from please maybe not teach anymore because you're ok with someone who hates the students you teach.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly folks there are so many things happening that tonight's question may seem a little scattered.