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Moralistic Therapeutic Education

No, kids, Zombie Donald Trump is not coming to eat your Bay Area brains (Erin Cadigan/Shutterstock)

United Educators of San Francisco, a Bay Area teachers union, is committing its members to undermining the next president of the United States. In a statement on its web page:

The results of the November election are rightfully sending people to the streets, taking a stand against the vile hatred and intolerance that Donald Trump represents. His election has made all of us less safe in our lives, but particularly those who are immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, and women. Without a doubt, we must continue organizing in our communities and across the state and nation to resist every and all attempt by Trump to role [sic] back our rights and to take back all of the hard earned progress that we have made as a country.

Talking to students about the election is important. Educators have a role to play to help them make sense of the new reality, especially those who come from the communities who have been attacked by Trump, and who now face a very uncertain future. A good start is this article from the Huffington Post. Mission High School Peer Resources teacher Fakhra Shah has also put together this lesson plan to talk about the election with your students.

The lesson plan was written the day after the election. It begins:

Tomorrow, I hope that you will take the time to put all lessons aside and talk to our students about what has happened and how they feel. Please, let them speak and be heard. Let them say what is on their minds, this is crucial for our school and our community. Let us please not sidestep the fact that a racist and sexist man has become the president of our country by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base.

• Students express their concerns and voice their thoughts/feelings
• Students gain empowerment/hope
• Students feel safe and respected
• Anti-Racist/Anti-Sexist/Anti-Islamophobic/Anti-Homophobic (etc.,) teaching lenses are magnified and put into full use tomorrow and students should come away with an
understanding of this through discussions held in class/norms established
• Students gain a working knowledge of context of American racial violence, sexism etc.,
• Feel free to add more (This is not the model of Bloom’s taxonomy for learning
objectives, but what do traditional models of education know anyway?)

Here are some recommendations for how to conduct a discussion:

1. Establish some norms if possible:
a. One Mic
b. Respect
c. Confidentiality
d. Step up Step Down
e. Speak your truth
f. Stay engaged
g. Add whatever the students want to add (you can ask for them to limit or not use
profanity here as well if that is important to you)

2. What has happened? Let the students speak one at a time. PLEASE VALIDATE
STUDENTS FEELINGS. Example: “What you are saying is valid,” or “I hear you,” “I
support you, I understand you.” “you are right and this is unjust.” Let them speak, guide the discussion, use a talking piece if necessary. (I know that they might curse and swear, but you would too if you have suffered under the constructs of white supremacy or experienced sexism, or any isms or lack of privilege. You would especially do so if you have not yet developed all of the tools necessary to fight this oppression. It is our job to help them develop these tools, ie the language etc., Let’s not penalize and punish our youth for how they express themselves at this stage.)

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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