Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Passing on a Teachable Moment

Prior to the president's address to the students of the United States yesterday, I was with a roomful of principals and other school administrators. One principal shared that she had already received calls about the speech. One parent said, "My daughter better be watching the president speak today," while another called to say, "My son better not be watching the president speak today."  How did it come to this?

The Sun Sentinel reports that Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter wrote in a memo to principals that students will not be allowed to opt out of viewing Obama's address. The district has encouraged civics education through programs such as Kids Voting Broward and by watching presidential inaugural addresses, Notter wrote, so letting students skip Obama's speech "does not align with our practices and responsibility to provide a well-rounded, quality education for all students." Many other superintendents sent memos saying that principals or teachers or parents or students could opt out.

Whatever your political leanings, how did we get to a place where our democratically elected leader is considered someone a young person should not only not heed, but not even hear?  How did an event as fundamental and relevant to who we are as the president encouraging young people to stay in school and work hard become controversial?  In a school setting, wouldn't this be an opportunity to learn something whether you agreed or disagreed with the president's policies?  Once home, wouldn't it be something to discuss at dinner or before bed?  One of the 8 Conditions is Curiosity & Creativity.  I'm curious:  Where did all the "teachable moments" go?

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