Surround yourself with people who think like you and make you feel good.
Today is sure the time to test this theory.
As public servants, teachers have always had to work alongside people who might not share their ideologies.
This may be one of the most difficult things to overcome.
To be fair, neutral, and unbiased in dealing with others who don’t share your views on things will prove to be the single most challenging thing you will deal with as you stand in front of students.
And I will tell you right off the bat, you will fail sometimes.
You will be sucked in to argue your beliefs. You will be put down because of them.
Kids are a reflection of a smaller, more limited world of family.
You are going to have to teach your students to think, feel empathy, and act as responsible citizens. That is, to hear both sides.
After all, you are with the students the majority of 9 months. The methodology with which you teach should always err of the side of student discovery. Leading a student to question and hypothesize with probing ideas but not your own opinions.
For example, when Barak Obama was first elected president, my class and I watched as thousands of people filled the mall and steps of the Capitol to get a glimpse of the first black president. I remember the crowds chanting: “Obama! Obama!” and raised the question to my students about charisma.
Was it always a good thing?
Were there other leaders in the world history who may have had what the people called charisma or did the people want to change the straits of their diminished lives?
Someone brought up Hitler. Was he charismatic?
I was in a rare position to ask the question back: “What do you think? “
Well, it was a memorable day of lively discussion. I felt that these minds were able to see that sometimes having charisma does not make you a great leader. The idea of hope for a depressed economy, maybe, but we all know how oppressive things became under this regime. Hitler had it, maybe, but for the wrong reasons.
The next day, I got a phone call from a mom. She was livid that I had said that Hitler was a charismatic person. How dare I? Her parents were from Germany.
After she had said her piece, I explained that I wasn’t saying that charisma is necessarily positive. It is a compelling attraction or idea of something that can become blind adoration. That sometimes the devotion was misguided. I told her that my own mother’s family comes from Germany and I wasn’t saying Germans were bad……
I was dug into a pile of it. As much as I tried to dig myself out, I found that sometimes people hear what they want to hear, and do not listen to the value I placed on kids thinking through an idea and dispelling it.
It is so important to be able to read your room. While I sewed up that lesson on charisma, perhaps I should have spelled out Hitler was B.A.D. But I wanted the kids to be able to understand what got him to power in the first place.
2020 has been a year of incredible hardship and change for the whole world. When students are looking at things to be positive, they should not accept the status quo.
Wondering. Asking questions of many sources. Staying off of social media where people are lighting each other up and opining without listening.
Kids should be guided into citizenship based on truths and facts.
They should be able to form their own consensus.
The courtesy of listening, even to those who don’t share your thoughts, is the basis to a more understanding society.
Without a conversation, though, many ideas will go by the wayside.
Teaching civility instead of defamation of character should be utmost in teacher’s heads today. Even though, in today’s world, this is probably the most difficult time. Everyone is pointing fingers.
Conclusions come first from starting the conversation with two sides sharing.
Facts. Rationality. Truth. Respect. Empathy.
Thanks for listening.