What Won't Change

Friday, November 11, 2016

I've spent the last eight years encouraging my students to respect our President and to be proud of and thankful for our country and the freedom it represents.  That won't change.  I'll do the same for the next four and the four after that.  It's the right thing but that's not the only reason I do it.  I truly believe in this country and all it stands for.  Eight years from now, some of my students will be old enough to vote.  Two election cycles from now, they'll be the ones rallying on college campuses and blowing up social media.  The sentiment I reflect to them matters.

Maybe it's because I've spent too much time digging through social studies textbooks but in my mind, it's simple.  We have a political process, a system of checks and balances, and a country founded on freedom and democracy.  That won't change.  Yes, there are intricacies to that (like the electoral college) that were put into place for a reason whether all of us have taken the time to study and understand all the reasons or not.  There are hundreds of laws, codes, policies and processes that were painstakingly designed to build and protect the greatest country the world had yet seen.  It's worked beautifully for 240 years and I, like President Obama (see below), believe that won't change.

I worry about what my students will remember when they think back on that crazy election when they were in fourth grade.  Will they only have memories of nasty political ads and news reports of protestors in the street?  Will they remember the adults in their lives as being either obnoxious about their opinions or shying away from the subject altogether?  Will it be all about two incredibly divisive candidates, or will we somehow be able to bring this all back together?

I plan to show this clip to my students next week and I hope if you are a teacher or a parent, you'll consider doing the same.  You win some, you lose some.  That's important stuff.  I'd add another tired but tried and true saying to the mix: "It's not about if you win or lose, but how you played the game."  Not only that, it's about continuing to play the game, whatever team or teams you're on, because as President Obama said, "We all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens, because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy."

I pray that won't change.

A few weeks ago one of my students asked me if whoever lost the election would become the vice-president for the person who won.  I'll admit I laughed out loud at the thought.  Either way it could've turned out, the idea of the two candidates working side by side was preposterous.  As I pulled myself together and finished up my explanation of running mates, I had a moment of reflection.  How sad that the thought of opposing political parties working together is so ridiculous, when I spend all day teaching ten-year-olds that they can learn to work with anyone.

At school, I often say, "Just because you aren't best friends, doesn't mean you can't work together."  Praying that somehow we'll learn from all this and that WILL change.

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