• Bridging Differences

    In Bridging Differences
    Deborah exchanges views with a different colleague, each for a month or two.  Her current correspondent is Harry Boyte, a Minnesotan (although his roots are southern). He has always been a friend and mentor, even though we come to stuff in different ways and even disagree on and off. He is a professor and an activist, a theorist and a practitioner, with a focus on democracy—beginning a long time ago when he worked with Martin Luther King. He has written or edited ten books on the topic and founded a Center on
    democracy which is now at St Augsberg College, but formerly at the University of Minnesota.  

  • Where I’ll Be

    Dec 1-3, 2016 Fall Forum Coalition of Essential Schools: Providence, Rhode Island

  • Network for Public Education

  • Good Morning Mission Hill

    For information on showings or purchasing the video Good Morning Mission Hill
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What now?

Dear friends,

What a few months we’ve been through. No point in rehearsing all the stages I have gone through. But since I am incapable of not being an optimist, even though I know better, I have solved it in this way: I had been thinking that if I made it for five more years I would probably see a great-grandchild or two born. Worth doing. But now I have decided to try to live 12 more years (three electoral presidential cycles) so I can see the pendulum swing and take some healthy breaths before I call it quits. I do envy those much younger for having more time to do this.

Of course, it means that we all, including me, cannot spend too much time grieving and complaining. We do always need smart analyses, thoughtful historical perspectives, etc. (We need, for example, to remember that less than ¼ of all potential voters voted for Trump, and half of the eligible voters did not or could not vote at all.) But we also need motion—action—face-to-face as well as all other ways. We need to bury—or put on the back burner—as many differences on our side that we can tolerate (and which smart strategy suggests doing). We need to build bridges: we need the kind of listening skills that good educator’s work rests on.

A good classroom is always building bridges between what different people think—even in a math class. Listening to and taking seriously the absurd, the offensive, and the illogical ideas as I tried to do in kindergarten classes was not a frill. There was always a nugget of truth, an insight that still informs me, and even angry words were important to me—where does this passion come from? For example, were Stein votes in Wisconsin enough to have turned that state Democratic? Only Stein supporters need to consider that; while we remember how hard it was for many others to vote for Hillary as they did. The fewer litmus tests we demand, the more likely we can in the long run be persuasive.

If we write-off too many citizens (and would-be citizens) then in 12 years we may even eke out a victory with those solidly or our side, but not the landslide we need to safely move ahead. Starting in 2018 we need to practice what we preach: respecting the opinions of others.

We also need to be there, while doing our very best to take care of those directly wounded by Trump—and there will be many mortally wounded, not just disappointed.

For me it brings into question the “inevitability” of democracy that I was raised to believe in. T’aint so. It may be that some will always seek it, but it does not mean they will achieve it. Even in the shabby form of the democracy we live in. Amanda Taub wrote a piece in the NY Times on Tuesday, November 29th, page A7 entitled “Warning Signs Flashing Red for Democracies.” Read it.

I will discuss this further in my next blog.

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One Response

  1. Thank you for your leadership in this time. Educators can inspire future generations and give those students the tools they need to support and further create a just society. When leaders like you speak out, we all learn. I appreciate.

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