Entering into the world of education comes with a lot of dos and don’ts. There are a few things, such as do help kids succeed, do foster creativity, do show up with a positive attitude and don’t treat students poorly, don’t engage in inappropriate relationships, don’t disrespect administration – those are obvious. There are other things that land in gray areas and one of those things in particular is politics. Unless in a government class, it is frowned upon to discuss politics with students; however, that does not stop some teachers.
Many students will shout out the political opinions they hear at home, but cannot provide any synthesized thought to back up their opinions. With the results of the last election, it was hard to hold my tongue. Teaching at a predominately white high school has always caused a certain amount of discontent on my part, but that discontent reached a new level as the state of the school began to match the state of the country – chaotic.
White kids shouted triumphs in the form of slurs while nonwhite kids walked with their heads low. Murmurs of Spanish intermingled with gleeful chants of blatant racism filled the hallways. Students informed me that America was going to build a wall, it was going to be great again, all of the gays would stop being gay, and there wouldn’t be any reason to fear riding on a plane.
These are all things that broke my heart while childish boys giggled and immature girls agreed. Their fearlessness grew in numbers at a pep rally a few days after the election, students shouted things like “fuck Hillary,” “hail Hitler,” and “put up the wall” with the excuse that “since Trump is president now” they have the right to say those things. These kids lack the ability to be empathetic or aware of the world that exists beyond their small town. Minority students kept to themselves as the majority students walked with their heads high and chests puffed out.
Schools are often thought as safe spaces, but that’s not always true. The demeanor of society will always dictate the demeanor of children, so it’s vital for adults to lead by a positive example. Electing a vile man who uses hateful rhetoric trickles down to children and teaches them that it is okay to practice hate. The chaotic election has created a chaotic school that allows students to practice hate, and it is left to educators to teach students that hate will not prosper.