Small Bites Friday Five 1-22-21
20-30m – Watch this Anand Giridharadas Ted talk in which he calls us, “An America whose two halves learn again to strive, to plow, to forge, to dare together.”
15-20m – Listen to this podcast about the psychology behind belief in conspiracy theories and one man’s struggle with his own beliefs since 9/11.
10-15m – Listen to this NPR podcast about a boy whose family is being destroyed because of their divergent beliefs in conspiracy theories, and then reflect on how you, as an educator, could help him and others like him. Jot down or even post any good ideas you come up with.
5-10m – Read this End Slavery Now post about conspiracy theories and how they harm efforts to really save the children. Then read this Wired article from 17-year-old Sofia Barnett about her own experience.
0-5m – Read these 13 tips from the MIT Technology Review to help you meet your students—or even other adults—where they are. If you yourself have a strange feeling about something you believe, these strategies are also good to help you confront your own beliefs and biases.
Scroll through teacher Pinterests or walk through Back to School Classroom deco aisles and you will find them all: Kindness matters; In this classroom we laugh often, love hard; Choose kindness; Respect others; and on and on. As educators and as human beings we say we want kindness and respect above all else, but do our Pinterest feeds align with our social media feeds? Are you drawn to the posts bashing the idiocy of those who don’t believe what you believe?
If not, I hope January 6th was a wake up call. Wanting kindness is not enough. Posting pithy sayings and attending SEL PDs is not going to make for better classroom culture unless you decide to (here’s another pithy saying) be the change.
Your words build or your words destroy.
What did the words you said or wrote do today? Yes, it’s easier said, but it has to be done. Unless we are willing to change our thoughts and words, we have no hope of changing our class culture, and certainly no hope of leaving the world in better shape than we found it.
As you wonder how to broach sensitive subjects in your classroom, think about the basics. Have you made it a priority in your classroom to create a culture of belonging? Do your students know that intolerance and belittling one another will not be tolerated? Those conversations should be had during the first weeks of school, then spiraled back to often. What if every teacher made SEL not something to check off a list, but a real, daily priority? Would suicide rates go down? Would there be less bullying? Less truancy? My guess is yes to all of the above.
Yes, it is easier said than done. But if we explicitly teach kindness and respect, discussing what that looks like in diverse situations, we will begin to see a citizenry that knows how to disagree civilly.
One last pithy saying; The future of our world is in your classroom today. What an honor, what a responsibility. Now, what will you do with that power?