January 19, 2021
It has been a difficult couple of weeks for our country, and as a citizen and an educator it has cast an unsettling feeling. The seat of the nation’s democracy was attacked. Police were assaulted. Ugly images of racism and antisemitism were flaunted and celebrated. As a school community we need to teach our children that this moment in history was a disgrace.
In reflecting on these events, I immediately gravitate to wondering how they may impact our kids. Many events have little or no immediate, tangible impact on the day-to-day lives of our student body, but as teachers and families we must prepare our charges to be ready to adopt the mantle of their country. So, using that lens, the recent events in the nation’s capital will inevitably influence the future of our children.
At this time there are more questions than answers. What must we do, as the adults in the community, to prepare our kids for their future and their role as citizens in our democracy?
There are not easy answers, but good answers always consider complexity, nuance, conflicting points of view, and the ability to wrestle with facts and the truth. The best we can do in the short term to prepare for the long term is to immerse our students in a culture of caring. They must know, unequivocally, that we care for them.
We must teach them diplomacy, and how to listen. In order to be an essential part of our citizenry, we must be able to interact with those who are different from us. On a daily basis, while interacting in classrooms, recess, hallways, and fields, with classmates and teachers, our students witness what it is like to be respectful and carry oneself with dignity and self-worth.
We must embolden our children with a voice that stands for what is right. We must teach our children to use their voice for positive change. If that means learning to ask the right questions, then we have accomplished something. We can also encourage our students to voice their opinions and have them understand that it leads to change.
If ever there was time to recommit ourselves to the basic tenets of the Montessori philosophy it is now. We must appreciate differences, we must practice grace and courtesy, and above all we must work for peace. These are noble goals, goals we value each and every day at Riverbend, and we know our students will stand by them as citizens of their country and the world.