I have to say I do not envy teachers who are headed back to school this fall, and for those who are already at it, I hope you are doing okay. What is happening in the country at the moment is hard enough for adults to understand. I cannot imagine trying to explain it to children. Yet, at some point, depending on the age and maturity of the children you teach, you will need to try to explain it.
Most classrooms operate like mini-democracies.
Students are taught basic fundamentals of respect for adults in the room and their classmates. They are told that it isn’t okay to hit, bite, or punch their classmates, although I am told that hitting, biting, and punching is on the rise in some areas. (I was told this by an HR person for a large school district, so I trust it to be an accurate depiction of what is happening in some places.)
Bullying is not allowed in our classrooms. In spite of that basic premise, we are all well aware that bullying has become a national epidemic.
As teachers, we emphasize the importance of fundamental fairness and respect for authority and for one another in our classrooms.
We also teach that facts matter. And (I hope) we teach that history, when ignored, has a bad habit of repeating itself.
We don’t just teach the fundamental curriculum. We teach students the importance of caring and sharing and having empathy for one another.
How in the world does a teacher teach these fundamental concepts to impressionable children when the leaders of the free world–and I am not just talking about the President of the United States but any leader in Congress or any state official who is guilty of arguing on national TV that somehow, two wrongs make a right? Because at the moment, that is exactly what I hear many of them are doing.
I am writing this post because I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing adults argue that just because one group did something wrong it is somehow okay for the other group to do something wrong.
THIS IS WRONG.
Two wrongs do NOT make a right…they make for two wrongs that build on one another and only exacerbate an already bad situation.
As teachers, it is your challenge to somehow communicate that in spite of whatever your students may be hearing on TV or in community discourse, fundamental goodness, honesty, integrity, and justice are not things of the past.
We must keep those concepts alive if we are to survive as a civil and just society. It is imperative that every teacher in the country make this their number challenge for this year.
Please don’t succumb to cynicism.
I know it is easy to get sucked into the nastiness. Please hold yourself above the fray. Please remember that we need you to stay strong. We need you to be good role models for our children.
Don’t give in out of weariness that all this craziness is creating in all of us. You may be the only example of goodness that your children get to see! It is up to you to be a light. It is up to you to bring about an understanding of what civil discourse is all about. It is up to you to try to maintain a cool head in spite of the confusion going on around you.
It is a heavy burden, and I am sorry to lay it on you, but I worry about where we are headed if cooler heads–and kinder hearts–don’t prevail here.
Respect/disrespect give and earn respectful a different and other opinion or view
I write this blog for “teachers in distress,” and I am usually writing for those who have considered that maybe they have come to the end of their teaching career. I help those folks figure out what else they might do instead of teaching.
But today’s post is dedicated to those teachers who are showing up in the nation’s classrooms now and in the weeks to come. You must meet the challenge ahead of you. I don’t envy you, but I am glad you are there. Your children need you. Your country needs you.
Whether you teach civics or history or math…whether you teach 5th grade or kindergarten…we need you to be the voice of reason. We need you to bring a sense of balance and justice and ethical decision-making to your job every single day. We need you to teach your children about fairness and individual rights. We need you to do all of these things.
Thank you for being a teacher. I appreciate you more than you can possibly know and today more than ever.
Until next time.