Shocked By Charlottesville

Dear World Leadership School Friends,

We, at World Leadership School, were shocked and saddened by the news that came out of Charlottesville, VA on Aug. 12th. It is hard to wrap our minds around this display of oppression and hate. We stand in solidarity with those who are working to fight against bigotry, racism, and all forms of hate. We know that our strength comes from our diversity. The acts on Aug. 12th remind us clearly that we have not come as far as we had hoped as a country with regards to race and religion. We find ourselves asking, how do we collectively move forward from here? The only foreseeable answer is education.

The community of educators in this country is strong and when trying times arise, we are ready to rely on and assist one another. We have learned time and again that when teachable moments arise, we act. Less than 24 hours after the violence in Charlottesville occurred, there was already a place created for teachers everywhere to share content on how to address these issues and use the classroom as a place for safe discovery and discussion. The twitter hashtag, #Charlottesvillecurriculum, was created and is full of important and pertinent resources that teachers can immediately bring into their classroom in the coming days to help shed light on the questions that students are going to inevitably have. NPR and EdWeek’s Teaching Now blog also compiled their own collections of resources to address racism and bigotry in school and in the community. Education experts from the American Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, the Anti-Defamation League and Facing History and Ourselves have come together to create a webinar, When Hate Is In The Headlines, focused on Charlottesville. This webinar includes important information about related issues such as the “alt-right”, the history of hate and white supremacy in the United States, and strategies for talking about race and religion with our students.

I have often found that the most meaningful pieces of education happen in the unplanned moments, during open and honest discussions with students. Talking about race and race relations is difficult for anyone, but more so for white teachers in predominately white institutions; it is hard to know what to say and how to say it well. Angela Watson’s podcast, Truth For Teachers, provides some insight on how to effectively have these conversations in Ten Things Every White Teacher Should Know When Talking About Race. Finally, if students or teachers are looking for action steps to take in response to the Charlottesville riot, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a guide entitled Ten Ways To Fight Hate: A Community Response, which will empower anyone to take action against racism and hate within their own communities.

Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”, which I believe is a clear representation of the power of teachers and the extent to which our influence can travel. This blog post is my action step, my small stone that will hopefully create ripples far and wide by providing useful tools for all the great teachers out there faced with the awesome responsibility of shedding light into the darkness in our country right now. The White Nationalists will never win in a country full of educators who have committed their lives to the betterment our country through the greatest tool of all, education. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the young people in this country, they need you more than ever right now. We all do.

Teach well, my friends

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