As the children and teenagers in our Long Island communities head back to school this September, it is vitally important that we put them on the bus with some all-important directives: Be courteous to your teachers, don’t be a bully to your fellow classmates and overall, think about the consequences of your words before opening your mouth.
In other words, don’t be like the President of the United States.
It is a sad state of affairs in this country when teachers have to consider how to delicately frame narratives regarding the president for fear of accidentally sending the message that acting like a tactless bully is somehow acceptable.
Depending on the community, our classrooms are filled with diversity—be that cultural, socioeconomic or physical—and our president has already shown an affinity for loutish behavior and insensitive language when dealing with people displaying physical disadvantages (remember that infamous campaign speech where he mocked a disabled reporter?). What teachers have to worry about and prepare for is that divisive rhetoric—or “Trump Talk”—bleeding into the everyday interactions of students during the upcoming school year.
It is clear that now more than ever, teachers must ensure that curricula are built upon anti-bias teachings and culturally relevant lesson plans. It feels insane to say this in 2017, but children must be taught that diversity is good; that racism is bad; that inclusion is truly the only path to personal and societal success. Teachers must celebrate their students’ varying diversities. This approach can help to dismantle any hateful preconceived notions gleaned from overexposure to our Commander-in-Chief.
Though there seems to be a constant stream of doom and gloom, I think we are in relatively good shape in terms of future generations. Children, for the most part, are pure of heart and the current generation coming up—the so-called “millenials”—are some of the most accepting young people this planet has ever seen.
If children, teenagers and young adults can maintain their openness, hate will fade along with the groups that push its agenda.