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Because Children are Listening

17 Oct

I pledge to discuss this election with civility, to treat people whose opinions differ from mine with respect, and to focus on ideas, policies and values.

I will encourage others to do the same.

I will speak up when I hear name-calling, stereotypes and slurs.

I will do this because children are listening, and it’s important that adults model good citizenship.

The election is a mere 22 days away.

I share this pledge with you in the context of a New York Times article entitled: Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversation On Difficult Issues.

It is a lesson plan for teachers to help their students have a civil dialogue about tough topics that are tearing at the fabric of our nation.

Children are listening to the ugly discourse that is occurring on TV, online and in person.American Election

How can we teach them a different way?

Here are a few of the teaching ideas that resonated with me:

  • Considering commenting standards – what would guide the acceptance or rejection of online comments by your class and why?
  • Back up statements with evidence and sources – do your research to support your viewpoints
  • Listen better, and ask genuine questions that seek to help you understand rather than judge – ask ‘why’ before you jump to conclusions
  • Expand your ‘filter bubble’ – reach beyond those who share your ideas – include other perspectives
  • Learn about and try to counter ‘confirmation bias’ – look beyond information that supports your own theory
  • Practice empathy – try to understand the feelings/views of another – you DON’T have to agree

Hopefully, our teachers can speak up for civility and teach the value of respectful conversation.

Jeanette

P.S. This pledge comes from the Teaching Tolerance Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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