The Kids Are Listening

The Kids Are Listening

My candidate loves hotdogs, apple pie, and baseball.  Your
candidate is a: _______________.
Fascist
Racist
Socialist
Egoist
Narcissist
Communist
Misogynist
Sexist
Alarmist
Chauvinist
Corruptionist
Terrorist
Apologist
(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.