Glen Thielmann, Prince George teacher, blogs at Thielmann’s Web River
I am wondering how to approach the subject of Trump’s America with my social studies students. With many others, I’ve watched on in both fascination and horror as the bizarro version of the American Dream has unfolded over the last eight months-the successful merger of reality television with their political system. While it’s been easy coming to my own conclusions about how Trump is contributing to racist, xenophobic, and anti-LGBTQ attitudes, it will be a bit harder to figure out how to bring fair and reasonable discussions about Trump into the classroom.
There is a tradition among social studies teachers of remaining politically neutral (if there is such a thing), and presenting many sides of issues so that students can draw their own conclusions. This is especially important when it comes to current events and controversial topics. While not tantamount to silence, teachers often hold back on ethical judgments so as not to drag students toward their own beliefs. In practice this is hard to do-should I be surprised that students, by the end of the course, will share many of my own perspectives on the world? Hopefully they develop the skills to disagree with me as well.
Trump’s presidency has produced ample evidence on which we can and should make critical assessments. After Charlottesville, it has become clear to me that Trump has crossed a line into demagoguery, and that his growing negative legacy is now fair game for social studies teachers and their students.
Shelley Moore, Vancouver teacher, blogs at blogsomemoore
We are no longer living in the industrial revolution; this is the 21st century-when we need to value the strengths rather than deficits in learning. Rather than finding out why students aren’t green, our job is now to find out what their colour is. What do they bring? What can they contribute because of their diverse and unique expertise? For decades we have been trying to take this “colour” out of our students, taking the special out of special education, the autistic out of autism, the language out of cultures, and especially, the Indigenous out of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children. This is not teaching to diversity. This is not inclusive. Teaching to diversity and inclusion is where we value the characteristics that ARE diverse, and not try and homogenize them.
Jacob Martens, Vancouver teacher, blogs at Renovating My Classroom
Whether you are making minor updates to your practice or considering a complete makeover, Renovating My Classroom may provide helpful insights and resources for renovating your classroom. This blog initially shared my story of making incremental changes to my practice, and has grown to include the experiences of other “renovators.” The writing, resources, and links centre around practical ways educators can empower students’ ownership of their learning with the goal of having students leave their classroom as self-regulated learners: curious, confident, and skilled.
Lizanne Foster, Langley teacher, blogs at Moving paradigms
On August 2nd this year, we used up the amount of resources that it takes the planet a year to replenish. We used up in seven months what it will take 12 months to replace. That’s the denouement at the end of the popular video Story of Stuff.
Can we really afford to perpetuate the myth that cancerous consumption leads to happiness? If ever there was a time to replace the current stories of school and of stuff with stories that the First Peoples developed over thousands of years while they sustained a regenerative relationship with their lands, that time would be now.
Well-being for our children and for our planet should be the ultimate goal of learning. We can’t afford for it not to be.
This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 edition of Teacher magazine.