In talking about the current American President to students?
How does a teacher explain that Donald Trump operates in an Alternate Reality where he doesn’t tell the truth, follow the rules or care about ALL Americans that he swore he would take care of….
The chief challenge these educators face flows from the President’s penchant for playing fast and loose with the truth, for eschewing fact-based evidence in favor of unsubstantiated claims that are unmoored from reality. According to the Washington Post, he averaged 15 false claims each day in 2018.
Faced with this, it is becoming increasingly difficult for educators to assume the role that a healthy democracy relies upon them to play — helping their students to learn how to ground their own arguments in evidence and to ferret out the truth in others’ arguments by assessing the degree to which they are supported by evidence.
The most recent case in point is Trump’s televised start-of-the-new-year Cabinet meeting, which was rife with distortions and misstatements of fact. As a teacher colleague of mine put it, “how am I supposed to ask my students to seek and respect truth when they see something like that?”
Related to this, Americans have always relied upon our public schools to teach our young people how our system of government works and to invest them with knowledge of the basic precepts upon which that system is built. Schools have historically been the place where they learn about concepts such as checks and balances, or equality under the law.
Faced with an administration that does not always appear to embrace these concepts and on occasion seems to flout them, it is becoming more and more difficult for educators to shine a light on them and allow their students to see how essential they are to the healthy functioning of our system.
Then there is the problem of the President’s example. It is harder to have students behave respectfully toward one another when the nation’s chief role model consistently does the opposite….