“It would seem to me that there should be no better place for my children to watch that speech (or any other, for that matter) than in a place where ideas are encouraged, where critical thinking about those ideas is a natural part of the conversation, and where appropriate response and debate can flourish.” This is a quote from Will Robinson’s “The Obama Speech”. I have to admit that I am probably one of the most liberal teachers at my high school. I didn’t realize how truly conservative this area was until I moved here. Coming from Montana, Alaska and Colorado, I’m sure you are wondering why. Maybe it was just the places I lived…I’m not exactly sure. However, when I read this article, I was immediately drawn to his words. It was on September 8, 2009 that I received an email from my principal with these words from our policy book regarding the speech:
Humboldt Unified School District has the policy of avoiding the injection of anything that might be construed as political into the continuum of our Standards-based curriculum. We want to avoid at all costs the appearance of outside forces politicizing our classrooms. Therefore, Humboldt will not promote the airing of the broadcast as a building-wide activity. No doubt, Mr. Obama’s address will be broadcast many times in our national and local media. Anyone wishing to listen to it may do so on his/her own time.
My issue is this: the leader of our country is speaking to America. In 2001, when the Twin Towers were attacked, wasn’t that a “political” issue? I didn’t receive an email from my principal telling me that I couldn’t watch that on television. If my brother and sister would’ve had televisions in the classroom, would they have been prevented from viewing the JFK assassination or the landing on the moon? Weren’t those all “political” in their own right? Who’s to say what is right and wrong in what we view? I believe that many of my students would not go home and watch that speech with an adult, but if they would have been given the opportunity to watch it in my class, would I have given them the opportunity to ask questions?... to debate… to put in their two cents? That’s my job. It bothers me that schools in this district will prevent my daughter for experiencing these things as well.
Another point I’d like to make is: I have students from all walks of life, including foreign exchange students. What message are we sending to these students that we can’t listen to the leader of our country? I am truly appalled at this situation. If the president would have been Bush, would we have been able to watch it because we live in a McCain state? I believe the answer would be yes…and how sad is that for an entity trying to include diversity, tolerance and acceptance.
Okay, I’ve already said enough, but I’d like to comment on the blog, “If Every Student Had a Computer.” Wow, wouldn’t that change my life? Would I change the way I teach? Would I change the material? Would I change the timing of things? Yes. Would I change my approach? Probably not. This would eliminate the “my printer is broken” and replace it with “I didn’t do it”. It would place complete responsibility on the student. Would it make them more successful? That is where I’m concerned. Does being on the computer all the time make you more successful? I am a lover of the book, of the pen and paper, of the original process of writing. I don’t believe writing at a computer fills the gap. There’s something to be said about sitting under a tree with a notebook and pen and writing. Surroundings encourage, comfort motivates and freedom releases inner thoughts. Can the computer replace the way we learn? I don’t think so. Can it enhance it…mature it…can it make us look at it differently? Absolutely.