Slice of Life Tuesday:The children are listening…

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers

It’s election season, and I, like teachers in every classroom, am tip toeing around the circus that the 2016 Presidential election has become.  In years past, the Presidential Election was an exciting experience: a civics lesson in real time, when the machinations and compromises of the Constitutional Convention were lifted off the dry pages of our text books and visible in vivid color right there on our television screens, and in our news papers.

But not this year.

This year, I received emails from parents regarding their children’s homework assignment to watch the debate.  No, they said, thanks to the content of the most recent news about one of the candidates, they would rather not have their children watch the debate and listen to what they felt  sure their children would hear.  And I was with these parents.  I understood.

This year, our election season has become a minefield of words and events that we teachers are trying to navigate our way through.  On the one hand, an election is an opportunity to bring the real world into our classrooms so that our students can see democracy and governance in action.  On the other, there is a sinister darkness to this election, a vile hatefulness in bloom with  news story after news story.  One candidate has stopped talking about issues we can research and debate in our classrooms, and taken up things we cannot discuss at all.

But,  the children are listening.  They are listening closely.

Which is why I took such comfort in Michelle Obama’s electrifying speech in New Hampshire late last week.  She is listening, too.  And, unlike teachers like us in classrooms all over the country, she has the bully pulpit and the freedom to speak out.   Our schools may be “bully free zones” with “zero tolerance”policies for hate speech, but we teachers must tread carefully about who we name and what we say about this Presidential election. Not Michelle Obama, though.  And I am grateful for that, because our FLOTUS spoke about and for our kids:

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Because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.

The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man.

Our children are listening…I hope many had the chance to hear what Michelle Obama had to say.


22 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday:The children are listening…

  1. I’m with you all the way. In fact, my post today is also about Michelle’s recent speech, teachers and the effect all this must be having on children. I especially liked what you said about the men in our lives; they, too, are upset.

  2. I couldn’t agree more Tara. Last year when I was planning with middle school teachers we considered crafting lessons related to the presidential election. By August, we thought differently given the tone of Trump’s rhetoric. Clearly, the more recent allegations and that awful video would be impossible to ‘teach.’ In the schools where I work, there are many children of immigrants. A wise admin I know tells me how the little ones are filled with fear that their moms and dads will be sent away from them if Trump becomes president. They cry.

    I can’t wait until the election is over and Hillary Clinton is president.

  3. I said it on FB but it bears repeating in one form or another, I am glad to be sharing the earth and breathing the same air as Michelle Obama. I can be proud of her at least.

  4. Yes, they are. I have mostly avoided the debates as discussion points in class because I am having trouble navigating this terrain without opening up elements that I find inappropriate for my students. (Then, I worry: I should be talking about those elements. They may not be talking about it at home). We are doing a unit on the presidential campaign, focusing on issues and not candidates, with aims of our own version of Letter to the Next President. Still … our kids are listening and learning, and judging us as adults. It’s a crazy year.

  5. It is certainly tricky this time around! I don’t honestly know how I would have a bi-partisan conversation with students about this one.

  6. I’m teaching communications this year too, so we watch the news. The discussions with middle school students have been amazing! More respectful and more thoughtful than what we see amongst adults, often times. I’m proud of them. I focus on this! Michelle’s speech was awesome!

  7. Michelle Obama is someone to admire, praise, and be proud to call our First Lady. I do not bring up the subject in any way with my students. They are, unfortunately, embarrassed that their parents are voting for Trump. I’ve never been so ashamed to live in this state.

  8. Great post, Tara. I’m pleased you could find a way of putting a positive spin for the children on this. I hope you showed your class Michelle Obama’s speech.

  9. It is a shame that elections have moved away from issues and toward name calling and mud slinging. Reminds me of the Sondheim song from “Into the Woods”. …Careful the things you say, children will listen…

  10. It makes me very sad to imagine what teachers like you have to do this fall during what in the past has been an exciting time. When our city held the democratic convention that nominated President Obama, it was a wonderful time. I took my students downtown, we saw the signs and people “for” and “against”, giving calm arguments for their candidate. The hoopla was energizing, pamphlets were gathered and examined back at school, etc. Yes, the children are watching Even Ingrid is aware of the “bad stuff”, as she calls it. Thanks for calling it out, Tara!

  11. This is a conversation I had with an instructional coach yesterday. What a shame that we cannot teach the current events of this election because of the ugliness that spews forth from one candidate. I loved Michelle Obama’s speech and the passion she had when she spoke. I do not envy the task you have before you this year.

  12. I so agree! This is one election cycle I am happy to not be in the classroom. My hat is off to all of you who are navigating this season of hate and fear! Breathe deep for we are almost at the end of this season. May we be able to move forward towards healing!

  13. Well said, Tara. It could be an exciting learning opportunity for our students … instead we are seeing and hearing and cringing with every word that is the exact opposite of what we are teaching our students! Hang in there …

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