Dear John Hay Community,
At this moment in history, the country is politically and ideologically divided. Regardless of personal politics, there is conflictual, sometimes hateful rhetoric being spoken everywhere we turn. How are schools and families supposed to address this complicated reality with kids?
Whatever our personal views and convictions are, I believe it is imperative that we use current events as opportunities to teach how our world works, how politics work and how they can shape their own opinions and learn how to respectfully disagree and, when necessary, how to stand up to what they feel that something is wrong.
I encourage each one of us to help students find their voices, express their feelings, learn more about what’s going on, and find effective ways to advocate. To get us started, here are some possible things we can do right away:
1. Lessons on Separation of Power – Talk about a teachable moment! Now would be a great time to reinforce the concept of separation of power – how it was developed, why it was developed, and ways it has been used to benefit our country in the past. Here is one quick K-5 resource. https://kids.usa.gov/three-branches-of-government/index.shtml
2. Lessons on Protests – Some students may want to protest, or may have been at some of the local protests. Teachers need to take a neutral stance on controversial issues in the classroom, yet we can still teach students about the role of protests in democracy and help them navigate the process. Taking action is a great way for students to realize they are not powerless.
3. The First Amendment – Again, a teachable moment. Freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom to protest.
4. Understanding Diverse Perspectives & Learning How to Debate – Taking a side on an issue is not enough. We need to learn to be comfortable with seeking understanding about where the other side is coming from, and how to respectfully disagree with opinions that don’t align with our convictions. Debate skills are a great way to teach this.
5. Be Present – Listen to children’s stresses and anxieties around current events. Answer their questions honestly and give them suggestions on what they can do to advocate for what they think is right.
6.Anti-Defamation League: This is a great resource where you can find books and articles that help us share information with children about religious and political differences http://www.adl.org/education-outreach/books-matter/religion-religious-bigotry-books.html?subreligion=muslim-muslim-american#.V16_xk32aUl
Please share any resources you find useful with all of us.
John Hay Rocks!
All my best,
Principal, John Hay Elementary