Social Change In The Classroom

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A. One social change that I would like to see in the world, as vague and over-reaching as it sounds to say, is an erosion of the strict political party system. Not just that, but I would also like to see all-encompassing ideologies start to fracture – like liberal or conservative. I think that maybe the biggest social problem there is, especially with this last election, is that people become so beholden to the identities they create – “republican”, “liberal”, “democrat”, etc… – that they end up missing out on finding common ground with each other. Because of the way people adapt their beliefs into identities and try to form groups of like-minded “communities”, I do think that students are being raised in an atmosphere where they are being nudged into falling into certain categories or groups that view any other belief as the enemy. I would love if debates or beliefs in America relied a lot less on clashing people’s identities against each other, and more on offering viewpoints that cross and share shades of grey with each other. Everything always seems to be an all-or-nothing for people, and I feel that the reason for that is because people view their beliefs as part of their identities instead of fluid and complicated issues. I guess another simpler way of saying this is that I wish people would just be more open and understanding to the intricacies of opposing views. In a history class I had after the election, for instance, there were a lot of comments about how anyone who voted for Trump had racist views. That is just not true, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons for voting for Trump I feel – maybe some people who did it felt that the establishment wasn’t listening to them anymore and that a “brick through the window” was what was needed, maybe they thought that it would encourage progressives to take hold of the democratic party in 2020 if the establishment lost badly this time around…there are many reasons. I just feel that people lose sight of nuance so much that everything turns into a really simple black-and-white world.

B. As a teacher, I feel it is important to stay neutral and to always make students question what it means to “be something”. If a student says they are a liberal, you can ask, “what does it mean to be a liberal?” and then point out the ways in which some liberal beliefs are shared by other ideologies. Students need to learn that it is alright for their beliefs to not perfectly align with one specific belief set that exists, and that people who think differently then them are not “bad people”. Especially after this election, I think someone would have to be really stupid to NOT think that this kind of education is needed. This whole election was filled with anger, and with people who were (on both sides) completely intolerable to the people who opposed their views. If anything, this election just showed how much damage the party system has done to our culture, and I think future generations need to be education differently so that they can mingle with each other within the shades of grey and the areas of nuance. This “us-versus-them” mentality when it comes to social beliefs needs to be erased, and teachers can help do that by having students constantly question social identities and the nuances in those identities.

Maybe I rambled a little in this one, but I just had these thoughts after the election because so many people seem so obsessed with identities and labels, instead of focusing on the different nuances and lines of thinking that went into the election.

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