Saturday, September 24, 2016

Be Political: Our Humanity Depends On It

The only read-aloud I have shared with every class of students I've taught is A Line in the Sand by Sherry Garland. This riveting story of a young girl living through the Texas Revolution enthralls my 4th graders and provides an opportunity for all of us to think critically about challenging themes like freedom, courage, and power. On Friday, there was a short scene where Lucinda writes that her uncle and her father disagree over something called politics. In 1835 two distinct political parties emerged, The Peace Party and The War Party. In my efforts to define the word politics for my students, discussions of Trump and Hillary quickly rippled across the carpet. Panic set in, and I promptly squashed the conversation. You see, politics makes me uncomfortable. In my mind it means opening a can of worms and inviting conflict, which I prefer to shy away from at all cost. 

Fast forward to Saturday morning when Chris Lehman eloquently challenged educators to engage in civil discourse about politics during the Fall EdCollabGathering. He mentioned difficult topics like recent police shootings, Kathy Miller's resignation over race remarks, and the Standing Rock Sioux Pipeline Protest. He reminded us that part of our humanity is our politics, and when we choose not to engage in political conversations things become predictable. 

The word politics makes me squirm. So I Googled the origin of the term, and this is what I found. 
Basically it means engaging with others within the city or community in which we live. What's so scary about that? Unfortunately, the current political landscape in America is frightening. There's a lot of yelling, fear mongering, and hate. Instead of civil discourse we hear things like, "I'm right! You're wrong. Shut up!" Is this the world we want to create for our children? A place where people are afraid to live out their full humanity?

I am deeply grateful for the learning opportunities offered through today's free online conference. Most importantly, I am thankful I was afforded the time and space to wrestle with some tough questions about my own insecurities and fears surrounding politics.

I'll leave you with my favorite new Kid President video. There's a lot of truth in his clever, quirky talk.

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