Monday, November 21, 2016

The Kids Are Listening

My candidate loves hotdogs, apple pie, and baseball.  Your candidate is a: _______________.

(Please choose all that apply.)

Anyone who supports my candidate is a winner.  Anyone who supports your candidate is a _________. (Please choose from the previous list.)

See how quickly the leap is made? It is so easy to label and generalize. 

I have done it, and I am guessing you have, too.  This election stirred up a lot of emotion, but not a lot of thinking.  We seem to have forgotten how to think and act. 

It is time for leaders to start thinking, particularly school leaders.  Not about winners and losers and presidential elections, but about how we are allowing ourselves and others to make inappropriate leaps like the ones described above.

I felt very strongly about the presidential candidates and equally strongly about the outcome of the election. Last week I had lunch with a group of people, two who supported one candidate, the other two who supported the other.  I have known these people for years and respect them and their opinions. I believe two of them were dead wrong about who they supported, two were dead right. They are still my friends.  I still respect them and their opinions, I just don't agree with them.

I've thought a lot about that as I read the paper and social media posts, and heard about kids acting out what they hear from adults.  It is time for adults to show leadership by talking to kids about respecting people, even when we disagree.  It's time to remind them that our democracy is about ideas, dissent, discussion and respect for individual rights.

It's time for us to set an example that schools are a place where we encourage understanding and learning, a place where ideas are explored, discussed and debated. School is not a place where opinions are dictated, or harassment and oppression are tolerated.

Let's take advantage of this opportunity to teach, not tell. It's time for adults to lead. The kids are listening.