Following last week’s dissonance-destroying victory for Donald Trump, San Francisco teachers are being offered a ‘Donald Trump lesson plan’ to “help students understand the election,” but, as NBCBayArea reports, opponents counter that it is leftist propaganda meant to scare children about the incoming president.
Fakhra Shah, a teacher at Mission High School, drafted the plan with the goal of empowering students, she said.
“This is anti-hate,” Shah said. “This is not just anti-Trump.”
On the heels of Trump’s stunning Nov. 8 victory, Shah wrote a letter to staff, in which she said, “A racist and sexist man has become president.” She also urged them to use a new, optional lesson plan that will allow students to say what’s on their minds.
“It’s a call to educators to take that anti-racist stance, to take the anti-sexist stance and to tell the students, ‘We are there for you. We will talk about this,’” Shah explained.
The plan also asks teachers to tell students they don’t have to “go back to where they came from” – as fears and rumors of deportation run rampant.
According to Shah, the lesson plan is about being open regarding the President-elect’s agenda.
“I want to be clear that we are not brainwashing anyone,” Shah stressed. “This is about a dialogue.”
Tomorrow, I hope that you will take the time to put all lessons aside and talk to our students about what has happened and how they feel. Please, let them speak and be heard. Let them say what is on their minds, this is crucial for our school and our community. Let us please not sidestep the fact that a racist and sexist man has become the president of our country by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base. (Let students speak, this is not about labeling, this is about facts, Paul Ryan even stated that Trump is the dictionary definition of racist http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/paul-ryan-trump-judge-223991. If anything let’s transform this into an opportunity for dialogue, a call to Trump and Trump supporters to take an anti-racism stance).
- Students express their concerns and voice their thoughts/feelings
- Students speak about their lived experiences with racism, sexism and the phobias
- Students gain empowerment/hope
- Students feel safe and respected
- Anti-Racist/Anti-Sexist/Anti-Islamophobic/Anti-Homophobic (etc.,) teaching lenses are magnified and put into full use tomorrow and students should come away with an understanding of this through discussions held in class/norms established
- Students gain a working knowledge of context of American racial violence, sexism etc.,
- Feel free to add more (This is not the model of Bloom’s taxonomy for learning objectives, but what do traditional models of education know anyway?)
Here are some recommendations for how to conduct a discussion:
1. Establish some norms if possible:
- One Mic
- Step up Step Down
- Speak your truth
- Stay engaged
- Add whatever the students want to add (you can ask for them to limit or not use profanity here as well if that is important to you)
2. What has happened?
Let the students speak one at a time. PLEASE VALIDATE STUDENTS FEELINGS. Example: “What you are saying is valid,” or “I hear you,” “I support you, I understand you.” “you are right and this is unjust.” Let them speak, guide the discussion, use a talking piece if necessary.
(I know that they might curse and swear, but you would too if you have suffered under the constructs of white supremacy or experienced sexism, or any isms or lack of privilege. You would especially do so if you have not yet developed all of the tools necessary to fight this oppression. It is our job to help them develop these tools, ie the language etc., Let’s not penalize and punish our youth for how they express themselves at this stage.)
3. Offer hope, upliftment.
EMPOWERMENT. Offer them opportunities to do well in class, uplift themselves and their communities. Ask them what they would like to do or express. Can we come up with a plan to uplift our school community? To say that we will not let anyone reign over us or have the power to dictate what we consider our basic human rights? Make a list for a plan on how we can uplift ourselves/fight oppression here at school even if we cannot control the rest of the country.
4. Tell them: We do not have to go anywhere, not Canada, not ‘back’ to any place we came from.
We also do not have to give in to brutality, police or otherwise, verbal or physical. Ever. We have rights and we REFUSE TO BE DENIED. WE DEMAND JUSTICE AND EQUALITY. WE WILL KEEP ON FIGHTING. Please relate this to your students. Tomorrow and every day must be a day of empowerment. This is not a Peer Resources philosophy, this is an Anti-Racist, anti-sexist, anti-islamophobic & anti-homophobic philosophy. This is a philosophy about upliftment, hope and justice.
5. DO NOT: Tell them that we have LOST and that we have to accept this.
We do not have to accept ANYTHING except that we must and will fight for justice against an unjust system and against unjust people. (messages of empathy and uplifting our students are important). Accepting the legal process, and talking about our right to hold our president accountable.
6. (HOW TO GAIN ALLIES)
Finally, the vexing question: How to change the minds of so many in America who are so racist, sexist, etc etc., I think the following resources can help shape that discussion. If you are not interested in the minds of others, especially in middle America, you can focus on the upliftment of ourselves and our own community here at MHS. Come up with a plan. (A simple 5 point plan).
I hope that you will attempt any or all of this. Reach out to me if you need help.
- How are you feeling today? What are your thoughts, feelings, reactions to Trump’s election.
- Validation (validate students)
- What are your greatest concerns about the current situation?
- Create two posters: students will answer the questions with markers:
- Poster A: “If you could talk to Trump supporters, what would you say/ask?” (This is prefaced with a conversation about what it means to humanize ourselves. How we will not engage in dehumanizing those who dehumanize us… i.e. profanity etc.,)
- Poster B: “Things we can do to uplift our community here at Mission High School” (examples: conduct circles to talk about this issue, or any issues important to students, have an assembly, promote healthy environment through various channels etc., making t-shirts: “make America great for the first time.”
- Collectively review all the comments that students wrote. Highlight what stands out the most. Students break into 2 groups to work on the issues they care about the most/take action/create a plan.
- Carry out the plan (this looks different at every school).
Yep, seems “fair and balanced”? Indoctrination from cradle to grave… but ignore all those “fake news” sites, they are evil.
“Many people in this country have had a strong reaction to what’s happened and I think the framework that was provided is a decent framework,” Blanc said.
But Harmeet Dhillon, who leads the Republican Party in San Francisco, strongly disagrees, saying there is a clear agenda at work.
“This is a specific anti-Trump agenda teaching students they need to be afraid for the next four years, that they are at risk,” she said.