Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Politics and Teaching

"The End is Near" Time Magazine Cover

We are in an election year like no other.  It is a year when the sides are so polarized that whichever side you are on, you are pretty much sure the other side is crazy (and maybe criminal).  My students asked me who I was voting for the other day and I gave my usual response, "I don't share who I'm voting for."  But this year I realized that if I told them, about half my students would lose total respect for me (or if not my students, surely their parents who might not hear about the math assignment, but would certainly hear about who Mrs. Linstrom was voting for).  In class, we have talked about the importance of voting. Next week, we will talk more about the democratic process. We have discussed the right to our own opinions and the importance of respecting other people's opinions, but this has been a hard year for adults to set that example.  Politics has become something of a mud slinging circus that we don't really want our children to view (and certainly not to emulate).  It is clear that people on either side find it nearly impossible to image the other point of view (and I will admit, this includes myself).  What has happened to us and how do we move forward?  Next week when the elections are over, how will be respond?  Politics and policies are important.  How should we proceed?

Here's what I think . . . On Wednesday, I will still have twenty-eight students who need to learn long division.  I will still have students who will walk into my class bearing the burden of a "less than adequate childhood."  I will still have students who think that they can't learn (or they are not smart enough) and some students who think they know it all.  I need to teach them they are both wrong and they are both right.  I will still have students who read at about the first grade level and some who read at about the sixth grade level and they all need to be challenged.  I will have students who are scared to go home and some who are scared to come to school.  My plate is full.  I can't change the world, but I can keep trying.  

On Wednesday I know that the monarchs I raised late summer, will continue their flight to Mexico. The milkweed in our gardens will invest in their roots and rhizomes, and lay dormant through the winter.  When spring arrives, the milkweed we planted (and the milkweed that no one planted) will grow and feed the great-great-great grandchildren of the monarchs we raised (and the monarchs we didn't raise).  If there is a wall between us and Mexico, they will fly over it.  Life will continue.
Mother Teresa was quoted to say, "What takes a lifetime to build could be destroyed in a day . . . build anyway. . ."  I think she is right.  This life is about building.  We build, we plant, we work and all the rest is just . . . all the rest.  We have children to raise and a planet to care for.  On Wednesday, like every day, we have work to do.  Let us keep building.    

Headed to Mexico

Milkweed Planting (saved from the lawn mower)