Teaching the day after a major election in the United States brings an interesting vantage point in which to discuss as many do not get the pleasure of hearing a hundred plus voices in a single day.
While I disagree with the way the liberal left has displayed their resentment towards the next president of the United State. They make a few very important points that as a teacher students, many of whom are minorities, I cannot say is wrong. The points are ones that I have yet to see any articles about and although I reposted a picture on social media that was brought to my attention, it was one of only a couple that I have seen. It has to do with the future generation. Also, known to many devote teachers as their students. Many teachers invest and care so much about each student who walks into their building that aside from them being a child of our own they are emotionally connected as close to each child as they possibly can be. This connection allows us to bring a certain point of view that is isolated from the rest of the population.
With the election of Donald Trump we have in our midst a generation of young adults and children who have a worry and fear that should unimaginable in 2016, especially in the United States of America. While the fear of deportation is illegitimate, and president Trump would have to be crazy to try and deport millions of people, many of whom are productive members of our society, the emotions that children and young adults are experiencing must be horrific. While watching the news or scrolling through social media, students are subjected to images and video clips that show a man claiming to get rid of people if they are not American. They hear or read quotes from him about how people of color or other cultures are a toxin to the United States. They notice how he treats people of different backgrounds and how he treats women. As adults, many of us can understand how hurtful this might be to a non-white, christian male, but the emotional and social damage to a child or young adult is slightly different and the damage has been done, long before Trump even won presidency.
A large majority of the students I teach are of another ethnicity than caucasian. And those that are white, most certainly have best friends who fit into the non-white category. My first group of students everyday get the pleasure to watch Channel One news, a kid friendly news station, for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the day. The news station has done a great job informing these young adults about issues and presenting fact based information and when they do present opinions, the news station always presents more than one. As election day drew nearer, the students chatter started to change as they discussed issues and why they thought one candidate was better than others depending on the topic. Amazing for a teacher to witness younger children get involved in issues that affect their lives and their families lives. I would try to put fires out when they arose or misunderstandings that could alter the dynamic of the conversations around the classroom. As a science teacher, I rely heavily on facts, so if I intervened, but didn't know correct answers I would make note that we need to do research before they debate or converse about topics. The issue that had to be discussed on Wednesday, November 9th was one that would change my mindset and push me to write this blog post. Coming into work, I knew that I would most likely have to put a few misunderstandings to bed about things that Trump has said he wants to do versus what he could do, but what I was not prepared for was having my eyes opened to a worldview that I would never likely experience first hand.
Now we have all felt unwanted by people in our lives, but few of us have ever felt half of an entire country tell you you are not wanted. This is what I was unable to bring comfort to on November 9th, 2016. I started with letting them know that deportation of immigrants would most likely be really difficult to pull off and that their family members should be safe here as long as they are productive members of society. Thinking that this issue was the main cause of mixed emotions that morning. However, this brings little comfort to students who no longer feel like the country they were born in wants them to stay. The feeling that half of 350 plus million people would rather you go"home" than stay in the nation in which you were born and thought was your home is one that brings extreme emotions on both sides of the spectrum. That amount of anger, sadness, and disappointment is one that I wish I could experience in hopes that I could find methods for dealing with the emotions that many of my students were feeling. Unfortunately, the best I could was tell them that I want them here. That I want to see their faces for years to come and that I would fight for their rights as citizens as I am someone who can vote and be a voice for them while they have to sit and watch the horrors of society crumble around them.
But this is only part of the issue with the newly elected president.
Let's take some time to understand how children think for a moment before discussing the impact that the remarks of our new president has made. Children are sponges. We have heard it I'm sure, but if you spend anytime around them at all, you will notice that adults are their role models. Even the ones who shouldn't be. They are role models in the sense that they will use that person as an example of how things ought to be. A child that hears or reads words Trump has spewed from his mouth, even just during his campaign run, are examples to them of how adults treat one another. Read that sentence again and let it sink in.
I currently have 151 middle school students enrolled in my 6 classes. If all 151 of those students were to one day try to become representation of the American public, they could hold 100% of the Senate seats, 35% of the House of Representatives, or 30% of total Congress. Now let's pretend that each of my students believes that the correct way to treat other adults is through ignorance and disrespect as Trump has so eloquently displayed to us throughout not only his lifetime, but more so the last 18 months. How far will the country advance if the future leaders act this way? Thanks to Trump, my students now believe this is how you get to be the most powerful person in America.
So as it stands, I have 6 classes of about 30 students who now have a role model, the most powerful person in the United States, who has shown them what it takes and how to act if you want to get to the top, even though the methods for doing so are undebatably morally and ethically wrong.