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Moralistic Therapeutic Education

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 [1]:

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 [2]. Mission High School Peer Resources teacher Fakhra Shah has also put together this lesson plan [3] 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.

Objectives:
• 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.)

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34 Comments To "Moralistic Therapeutic Education"

#1 Comment By Adamant On November 17, 2016 @ 9:24 am

‘e. Speak your truth’

If the Trumpocalypse were to accomplish absolutely nothing else but the banishment of this awful phrase and the nihilistic thinking behind it, I’ll nominate the man for a spot on Mount Rushmore.

#2 Comment By Steve S On November 17, 2016 @ 9:28 am

Can someone help me understand how Trump is a threat to LGBT+ people? He had a prominent gay man speak at the convention. He waved a rainbow flag at one of his last public appearances before the election. He said that Obergefell was the established law. Seriously, what has he said or done that indicates that gay people are “unsafe”? Perhaps I’ve missed something, but this seems to me like a desperate attempt to play the victim and drum up fear. I guess victimhood is a potent drug.

[NFR: Victimhood is the crystal meth of the left. — RD]

#3 Comment By Michelle On November 17, 2016 @ 9:42 am

Sigh. Teachers face enough difficulties these days teaching their students how to read, write, and acquire basic math skills without having to enforce the latest political codes. Look, I’m all for resisting and undermining Trump through all legal means possible but, if I had kids of school age, I wouldn’t want them going to political re-education camps. That’s not the role schools should play. It’s understandable why there’s a backlash against this kind of nonsense. It’s part of the reason we ended up with a narcissistic, ignorant game show host as our next president.

#4 Comment By Cascadian On November 17, 2016 @ 9:44 am

After they care for the student’s emotional needs, I hope they explain who is to thank for the new President.

#5 Comment By Robert Marvin On November 17, 2016 @ 9:53 am

There are two things that annoy me greatly about how some people respond after the election:

(1) What you point out here, which is the flagrant, explicit partisanship by organizations that I would argue should not be choosing political sides. The statement and the “lesson” is riddled with casual assumptions about how everyone voted and/or where everyone’s political loyalties lie, about which side is good, which side is bad, who needs to be comforted and coddled with compassion.

“This is a sexist and racist man”. Well. Not even “some people see president elect Trump that way”. The conclusion is already reached, not even up for debate. Actually I think the casual assumptions are what I find most offensive, even more than the blatant partisanship.

(2) This goes beyond your post, but, in addition to disappointed Clinton supporters being all weepy and cranky the next day (I saw it and experienced it in my place of work), is all the concern and compassion for those who are so upset, people are *grieving* oh yes, the poor bairns. So we need prayer services, safe spaces, blankets and puppies and coloring books (I don’t need a blanket, but okay), liberal priests and rabbis delivering sermons that speak with so much prophetic sensitivity to how wounded and divided we are, followed by pastoral letters to the congregation, peppered with quotations from rather partisan public figures (to be fair, good quotations).

I. Do Not. Remember. Anything Like This. In 2012.

I can only think of one reason why priests and rabbis and university administrators and journalists would get so touchy feely concerned for our emotional well being after this election. When they didn’t in 2012. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

#6 Comment By Sam M On November 17, 2016 @ 9:55 am

So is it still a good idea to defend crybaby students?

I wonder what the suggestion would be for a student who shows up with a Make America Great Again hat and tells HIS truth. Is the teacher supposed to validate that?

#7 Comment By KD On November 17, 2016 @ 10:00 am

“The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip between your fingertips”.

#8 Comment By Deplorable Me On November 17, 2016 @ 10:07 am

Drama queens.

#9 Comment By George Crosley On November 17, 2016 @ 10:14 am

It’s as if,sometime in the past, the writer of the teachers-union statement viewed a newsreel about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, clapped a hand to his forehead, and exclaimed, “My Lord! That’s how we should do things in this country! I can see it now: the marching! The chanting! The ruthless silencing of dissent! The two-minute hates against Emmanuel Goldstein–I mean, Donald Trump! Everyone thinking the same thoughts!”

#10 Comment By elizabeth On November 17, 2016 @ 10:37 am

Expect this as a matter of course throughout the next administration. Every progressive organization is gearing up to gum up the works in every way possible.

Unfortunately for the right, liberals and progressives have memories, too. A current theme on lib/prog social media is “Remember how the GOP gave Obama a chance, in the name of national unity?”

For the last week, progressives have amused themselves by sending a significant number of donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of Mike Pence. The thank-you notes will be sent to the Indiana state house.

#11 Comment By collin On November 17, 2016 @ 10:51 am

Radley Balko ‏@radleybalko
“What did you do as Trump gave power to authoritarians and bigots?”

“I ridiculed minorities who were scared and college students who cried”

[NFR: That’s not entirely true. [4] Baaaaaaaaaahahahaha! — RD]

#12 Comment By Will Harrington On November 17, 2016 @ 11:13 am

“• 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?)”

If I was an administrator at this teacher’s high school, this would lead to me firing that teacher. These flat out are not common core objectives or the objectives and standards for any state. Teachers are professionals hired to do a job. This teacher wants to do some other job. It”s like hiring a plumber to unclog a toilet, only to find out that they replaced the sink instead. As for the unions. Pffft. The only reason teachers join them is for malpractice insurance and, if teachers have a choice, and in the schools I’ve worked in, they did, they tend not to join in rather large proportions. Stuff like this is a big part of the reasons why.

#13 Comment By curious On November 17, 2016 @ 11:25 am

Trump zombie is a dead ringer for Ted Cruz btw

#14 Comment By DG On November 17, 2016 @ 11:27 am

“e. Speak your truth”

And there you have it ladies and gents, right there.

#15 Comment By JW On November 17, 2016 @ 11:36 am

Let California seceed

#16 Comment By David J. White On November 17, 2016 @ 11:47 am

• Students feel safe and respected

I wonder how “safe and respected” student who supported Trump are going to be made to feel? Are their feeling going to be validated?

#17 Comment By Joey On November 17, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

Question: what is the correct response if Bobby or Tina says that they/their parents are Trump supporters? (I mean, conservatives in San Fran…that’s like the ultimate minority, right?)

#18 Comment By John On November 17, 2016 @ 12:51 pm

I didn’t see any direction for the “teachers” to validate the feelings of students that agree with Trump. Would that be too much tolerance for a San Francisco classroom?

#19 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 17, 2016 @ 12:52 pm

This is what our taxes pay for, with the schools having become ideological re-education camps?

This is what our union dues pay for?

Defund.

#20 Comment By Sheila On November 17, 2016 @ 1:13 pm

Rod, are you concerned at all about the coming attempted phase-out of Medicare? You seem so focussed on crybaby college students and liberals that you have no time at all for the policies that the Republicans are going to try to implement now that they have control of all branches of the government.

It’s an extraordinary betrayal of the working class whites (and middle class too!) but no mention of that here. It’s a lot scarier to think about how that will upend peoples lives than to vent about your favorite target.

#21 Comment By kgasmart On November 17, 2016 @ 2:20 pm

I wonder how “safe and respected” student who supported Trump are going to be made to feel? Are their feeling going to be validated?

Hahahahahahahaha….

#22 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On November 17, 2016 @ 2:36 pm

Liberals have always been the class enemy, but touchy-feely liberals are beneath contempt.

Rod, are you concerned at all about the coming attempted phase-out of Medicare?

That’s a legitimate question, and after talking it over with Franklin Evans last month, I’m convinced Paul Ryan is either a lot more ignorant than appears, or he is a bold faced liar, but… None of the marches or lesson plans or other whining seems to be focused on policy matters such as this.

Give it a little time. Let the GOP show its hand… and then define the battle lines accordingly.

[NFR: Well, I would be, if it were a thing. We don’t know that it’s going to be a thing, yet. — RD]

#23 Comment By Matt On November 17, 2016 @ 2:57 pm

Sheila says: “It’s an extraordinary betrayal of the working class whites (and middle class too!) but no mention of that here.”

It is indeed. A few thoughts on this past week’s blogs, especially on the theme of lack of empathy for and disrespect of working class and economically vulnerable whites. It got me to thinking about the string of posts on this blog during the Louisiana flooding, and my bafflement that residents responded more favorably to a candidate flying down for an hour to hand out a few rolls of toilet paper over a president that stocked FEMA with experienced leadership to handle an ongoing and logistically complicated crisis. It didn’t make sense to me—and still doesn’t. Maybe it’s my practical Midwestern sensibilities. I guess the President could have flown down, staged a photo op and launched back into the sky, but none of that would have mucked out a single house or helped someone find shelter, financial assistance or medical care. If it were happening to me, I would prefer the latter option.

And yes, I totally get the empathy part. I do think we are a crueler and less empathetic nation than we have been in a very long time. But the street goes both ways. The GOP and conservative platform for the past 8 years was obstruction. It wasn’t enough that they resisted the President’s policies, which are fair game. They questioned his legitimacy as President. The questioned his legitimacy as an American. They went so far as to say that his policies were intentionally designed to destroy the country. They questioned the loyalty to country of his supporters (Sarah Palin’s popular speeches about ‘real America’ anyone?) None of this was fringe. Even Rod has shoved these Trump voters to the side so he can continue to take pot shots at Lena Dunham and a handful of obnoxious college students. I think for a bright shining moment, many of these voters were the center of the political universe—but in short order they may realize that they are simply a means to an end quite different than they anticipated.

When I think of the very real if imperfect achievements of the past 8 years—historic reforms to healthcare coverage, bolstering of consumer protections against the financial industry, steadfast security of social safety net and public health programs—I think of programs specifically designed to help these citizens, even the ones who voted for Trump. And not a single, suddenly populist Republican supported those measures or offered to modify or improve them. And nearly all of them, including Trump, have expressed the singular desire to use the levers of government to gut them entirely.

That is where the political capital is going to be spent—undoing all the things recently created to help those Trump voters. Not on NAFTA. Not on the ridiculous notion that manufacturing jobs are going to come pouring back into the country (not unless Trump plans to shut down automation, outsourcing and robotics companies). It’s 70 days until inauguration and Mitch McConnell is ALREADY shrugging his shoulders at the prospects of a revived coal industry.

I do agree completely that Democrats need to reach out more to these communities. Hopefully, all of us are working toward that—however fitfully—right now. But to put it in JD Vance terms, Trump was their flatscreen TV or shiny new cellphone or easy-peasy credit. Whatever hopes and dreams were bundled in the selection of Trump as our new president is presently being gift-wrapped for Ayn Rand fanatics on the Hill and anonymous actors in the financial sector. Those are the people in Trump’s ear now—and they have always and forever mattered more than you.

Trust me, Trump voters, Lena Dunham is the least of your worries.

#24 Comment By James C. On November 17, 2016 @ 3:34 pm

My God. That’s Maoist-level newspeak.

Perhaps it’s time to just split up the country? Or at least go back to the Articles of Confederation?

Washington has become a means through which to spread this kind of local poison to the entire body politic.

#25 Comment By Jon.Rakerson On November 17, 2016 @ 4:38 pm

I’m totally in favor of this kind of validation.

And I think it’s very generous of them, that they will support and validate the feelings of conservative students pleased at Trump’s election.

I have to step outside to giggle for a little bit.

#26 Comment By VikingLS On November 17, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

Seniors have probably the best political lobby in the country and vote in large numbers. Medicare isn’t going anywhere.

#27 Comment By EricP On November 17, 2016 @ 6:22 pm

This whole debate is tough for me. I don’t want the schools indoctrinating kids, but I do want them teaching them to be good citizens and generally moral people who respect and obey the standards of our society.

So how do you teach kids that one should respect the Presidency while also teaching them that behaving like the President-elect will get them expelled?

How do you teach kids that racism is unacceptable in our society when the President-elect just used racism as a major feature of his campaign… and won?

How do you teach them to keep their hands to themselves when they’ve heard the President-elect personally endorse sexual assault?

How do you teach girls to report sexual harassment and assault when reality just told them they’re better off not telling anybody?

The questions are endless. And the list will continue to grow.

There are no good answers because Trump isn’t a normal part of the American corpus. The American right just did something that the system wasn’t designed to handle. He’s like a cancer now – the body attacking itself. And like a patient with metastasizing cancer, we’re left with only a few incredibly unappealing and risky options… and still face a decent chance that we don’t survive.

#28 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 17, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

“historic reforms to healthcare coverage, bolstering of consumer protections against the financial industry, steadfast security of social safety net and public health programs”

If only. Mandates to have to pay whatever Wall Street’s predators decide – always more, more, more premiums, for less, less, less actual health care – no prosecutions of banksters, but bailouts for them and not homeowners, crumbling of infrastructure, evisceration of income and savings, reduction of full time work with no benefits while wars proliferate with windfall war profits to elites.

Smoke and mirrors, I’m afraid. We’re tired of hearing you try to persuade us we’re better off, when we’re not. And the best you can come up with is the equivalent of “Who you gonna believe, Obama and Hillary, or your lying eyes?”

#29 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 17, 2016 @ 7:56 pm

“Let California seceed”

Nothing secedes like secession.

#30 Comment By Mac61 On November 17, 2016 @ 9:28 pm

In New Mexico, so far things like this just don’t happen. Not at UNM, not at NMSU, not at the community colleges, which are 75% Hispanic/Mexican/Chicano-a/Latino-a [if you say all those, you usually get a laugh]. That’s because as a traditional community, A) a lot of Hispanics voted for Trump, and B) manners here dictate that no one gets worked up over who you voted for. The Mexican/Hispanic people here are tough-minded. The students here whose parents are undocumented and are on the DREAMer act are worried, but still coming to class and doing their work, in between stints doing farm work — one student drives 40 miles to class after milking cows all morning — or other sweatshop or near-sweatshop jobs. They work full time, go to school full time, sometimes have kids or take care of elders. They work hard, they don’t complain, they live and let live. In other words, there is a world of “diversity” in higher ed. Donald Trump does not know the people I know, how they contribute to our economy, and how decent, God-fearing and level-headed they are. Bannon? Bolton? Palin? I don’t think they have a clue either. And yet still my students do not complain.They work. They work. And they work. Yes, the coastal SJW’s and left-liberal teachers are Orwellian. They are horrible. But the working class people who tough it out at the community colleges should never be lumped in with them. No writer at TAC has done so. But commenters have called for draconian cuts to higher ed. Think deeper. The future of America;’s working class depends on it. And Bannon is a disaster I can’t apologize for. Trump is incoherent. People here just want to get a job and be left alone. Does that ring a bell?

#31 Comment By MichaelGC On November 17, 2016 @ 10:24 pm

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.

That’s classic doublespeak for “Every student will be required to take a turn in front of the class and denounce our arch-enemy in the strongest possible terms.”

That whole thing is pure poison. Also, this isn’t college campuses where mom & dad are paying $40K plus a year for their privileged snowflakes, this is public education where kids as young as first grade are being propagandized with some kind of Two Minute Hate.

#32 Comment By Stan On November 17, 2016 @ 11:07 pm

I live outside the USA. I am very disturbed by the election result believe increase the chance of war (not necessarily a war in which the USA is a participant) and/or economic depression. But…I have no control over what will happen. And I have the hope I might be wrong. So I try to put it out of my mind and focus on work and family and getting on with my life (perhaps it is not working well as I am reading this blog).

People who experience intense emotion at this result that they need to be counselled for are reacting to more than just the security threat Mr Trump represents. Perhaps a blow to ego or tribal ambitions for lack of a better or fairer expression.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On November 18, 2016 @ 12:17 am

Washington has become a means through which to spread this kind of local poison to the entire body politic.

Ummm… that’s not what I expect out of Washington for the next four years. And the people propogating the four minutes of daily hate don’t think so either, do they? Please don’t get your caricatures confused.

NFR: Well, I would be, if it were a thing. We don’t know that it’s going to be a thing, yet. — RD

We are saying the same thing here, right? Just checking.

#34 Comment By Major Wootton On November 18, 2016 @ 2:55 pm

Zombie Donald looks amazingly like Bill Clinton, except for the hair.