As the smoke clears post election most of the educational institutions that I am a part of have issued statements about their mission to “empower EVERY student by providing an exemplary educational foundation that includes critical and creative thinking, social-emotional learning, physical education, music, and the arts in a collaborative and inclusive learning environment.”
My children’s school even went further to state, “Whatever your political view, this is a time to pause and reaffirm our shared commitment to learning, to our discovery, to our diversity as a strength, and to our inclusive community as core values. We will continue to have zero tolerance for bullying or disrespect towards any member of our community, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, or any other perceived difference. We will continue to promote kindness and empathy towards every one. Our mission and these beliefs will remain a beacon as we move forward in the coming months and years and will guide us in all decisions regarding your child’s elementary school experience” (Northeast, 2016).
Now as I watch and listen to the news, it has become more and more important that work I do not only focus on preparing students to be workers, college and career ready. My purpose is to teach critical thinking, caring, and social responsibility. Nel Noddings (1991) wrote that “caring should be the foundation of our curriculum, including caring for ideas, friends, family, the earth and its ecosystems, human made objects, and strangers and distant others.” Empathy and social justice are at the hear of my curriculum. The books we read, the stories we write, and the texts we discuss all address the essential questions:
How can one person make a difference and impact positive change?
How do/can our actions impact the world around us?
What is the connection between injustice and empathy?
How and why should individuals build empathy for others?
Here are three videos that address EVERYONE’S responsibility to critically question the texts we engage with and promote kindness and empathy towards everyone. They can be used along side of great books. Each share similar messages about caring, acceptance, and accountability.
Grace Lin’s Ted Talk “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf
Lin Manuel Miranda’s 2016 Tony Acceptance Speech/Sonnet for Hamilton
Christiane Amanpour’s 2016 Burton Benjamin Memorial Award Acceptance Speech