Op ed

November 25, 2016leslie

I’m a retired classroom mathematics teacher but I have the luxury of teaching part-time in a local high school, Newton South, MA. When I enter the building there is often a student entering just before me. I love that those students universally hold the door open for me and I say thank you. They universally say, “You’re welcome.” I naturally do the same for students entering behind me. I just love this understood and consistent behavior of consideration and thoughtfulness.

I worry though about how confusing it must be for students (as it is for me) to accept name-calling, put downs, gross generalizations and the hate speech that has been tolerated in this presidential election. How do we encourage students to keep acting with integrity and standing up against racism, religious intolerance, bigotry, sexism, homophobia or whatever injustice that they witness in their lives? Clearly all of that bad behavior has worked for Mr. Trump. He successfully got elected. I don’t want students to learn this behavior.

I am only one person. I don’t feel that I have the power to change this new accepted behavior. But, I believe that I can influence all of the people I work and live with. So here is my plan. (I suppose that is nothing new for a teacher.)

  • I’ll always listen to the logic or rationale of my students and show that I appreciate their ways of thinking about problems and solutions.
  • I’ll try to always interfere when I see disrespect, name calling, or put-downs anywhere in the school or at social or public encounters.
  • I’ll try to be a good role model as a listener and a caring human being.
  • I’ll try to let students know that I respect them for their considerate and caring behavior.

At YummyMath we’ve tried to stay out of political issues. But this is one time that I believe that I have to stand up and speak out against what our present political situation is teaching students by example.

Thank you all for being teachers and making sure to consider and respect what our students are caring about.

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