It’s late now, but as I finally get to breathe out and reflect on the last 24 hours or so, I wanted to mention two more things:
You’d have been proud of your children this morning. We all awoke to the shock of the results south of border, and they arrived full of it: a lot of fairly simplistic but passionate statements of the kind you’d expect from our less sophisticated media sources. But it was pretty much how a lot of us were feeling. These kids are awake to their world!
This is what I had up as they came in:
I wanted to make the point that this is the deal. The people choose. And if the people made the choice they made yesterday, there are reasons. (We didn’t get into the fact that the American electoral system, like our own, is woefully non-representative of the popular vote; that’s a different discussion). Once we’d cut through the shouts of outrage, we spent almost forty minutes discussing what this was all about. I heard some anger and some fairly accurate comparisons to what we’d learned last week about the rise of Hitler. (My daughter just reminded me that, incredibly, this is the anniversary of kristallnacht, when the Nazis destroyed Jewish homes, synagogues and businesses. We heard about this last week).
I echoed their sadness and concern. But I wanted to help them see that there is always a Trump, always a Hitler: they only get power when they are granted it. And I don’t think I am just being all teachery when I say that this begins right here: in our classroom, our school and our community. If we tolerate bullying or exclusion then a seed is planted and that seed can grow. And I also wanted to be very clear that when we look at the mess in America we must not fool ourselves that every nasty idea expressed in the past months doesn’t exist right here in our country also. We must fight this with love and kindness and patience and an attempt to understand those with whom we disagree.
To the hardly-surprising cynicism expressed this morning as to whether “all politicians are bad”, I was able to ask them about the politicians they’d recently met at our City Hall. Why did those people seek this job? “To help,” someone answered. I think we can trust that this is the motivator for most of our political leaders. Hope is still the best way to combat cynicism. Hope and participation.
But I also said that we must remain vigilant–that this is our responsibility as members of a democracy. Following the above entry in Etymonline is the following quote from troublesome poet Ezra Pound (note the date):
That’s a mouthful. But I think it means that we don’t just vote every four or five years and then disappear. We continue to participate. Two of our students have already written letters to City Council since we began this study, one received a response this week. (He wasn’t all that happy with the response–sometimes that’s the deal too–but at least we saw that he was heard). We want our voices to be heard!
I know that most of you will have seen the Speaking Out For Change project outline that went home this week. Please discuss it if you haven’t; send me a note if it didn’t get home or if you have questions. It’s a fairly tight timeline.
Choosing a topic can be tricky. It is a good idea if they choose something pretty specific: so, rather than “pollution”, say, looking at “reducing cars” might be easier to tackle. Rather than “endangered species”, choose one species or one habitat–preferably but not necessarily Canadian. I’ll check in with the students Friday and Monday. The bulk of this project will be done at school, but of course they are welcome to do research and other components at home if they wish.
And hey, in case you didn’t get enough videos of your children to share with your relatives, here’s one that Karla from Beyond Classrooms sent yesterday: