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:
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.