As we delve deeper into the holiday season, many of us may find ourselves in the midst of contentious discussions. The events of 2020 have brought a host of challenging issues to the surface as we reach levels of political polarization not seen for decades. Irrespective of the many factors that got us here, one of the most important questions now is how do we have meaningful conversations in the midst of it? Especially in conversations with relatives and other loved ones—conversations in which establishing bonds of familiarity and shared history is often not required—what does it look like to reach across ideological chasms to engage in productive dialogue? Whether around the dinner table, in a place of worship, or over a virtual video chat, we need to hone these interpersonal skills if we are to move forward.
In the days following the presidential election on November 8, incidents of slurs, threats, and harassment—racist, anti-immigrant, antisemitic, homophobic, and sexist in nature—have spiked across the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, received more than 700 such reports as of November 18.
In the wake of the divisive United States election, educators are in a unique position to help students develop their skills as civic actors, thinkers, upstanders, and problem-solvers. This work isn’t easy in the best of times, but it’s particularly challenging during times of deep division and intolerance.
The following resources—from Facing History and our partners at StoryCorps—are designed to help your students gain critical thinking skills, empathy and tolerance, and a sense of civic responsibility.
This was a particularly difficult election for the United States. It exposed deep divisions and it was a year of ugly rhetoric and angry, sometimes violent, exchanges among people. Racism, misogyny, sexual assault, xenophobia, antisemitism, and just plain cruelty headlined news stories and became trending topics across social media. Many Americans could not wait for November 9th to arrive just so it would be over and they could move on. But “moving on” isn’t going to help Americans to address the tensions and issues raised by the long campaign season and the election itself. The election was a mirror held up to Americans, exposing deep damage and it created more at the same time.
I’ve always believed we can inspire young people to create a more compassionate future through education, both formally and informally.
While programs like Facing History educate our middle and high school students to promote a more humane and informed citizenry through examining racism and prejudice in historic events, I haven’t found much support for us, as adults, in tackling difficult topics like race, hatred, and bigotry in a respectful manner.
Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History is an ongoing series with Listenwise. This series connects Facing History’s themes with today’s current events using public radio to guide and facilitate discussions around the social issues of our time. Today we will take a look at the presidential election and how it is influencing our activity on social media.
Facing History teacher Saul Fussiner shares how he addressed issues of race and police brutality with his students at the start of the new school year.
As revealed in Teaching Tolerance’s report last spring, teachers are encountering a variety of challenges this election season ranging from bullying and fear among immigrant and Muslim students, to uncivil discourse and behavior in schools, classrooms, and the playground.
In the midst of a divisive presidential election, how can educators create classrooms where students learn to exchange ideas, listen respectfully to different opinions and experiences, try out ideas and positions, and give – and get—constructive feedback without fear or intimidation?
Each year at the Brookwood School in Manchester, a small coastal town in Massachusetts, we bring our seventh graders to a summer camp in Maine to kick off the school year. It’s a unique opportunity to build our class community and center ourselves for the challenges ahead. Our theme for the year is “responsibility,” one that is incredibly timely during this year’s heated presidential election. As we teachers encourage students to take responsibility for themselves and to care for others, it’s worth taking stock of our professional responsibilities during this electoral season. What is our role?