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Teaching in the Trump era

New York Teacher

Pedagogy in the age of Trump will inevitably be transformed as educators like the rest of the nation must learn to navigate in unchartered waters.

When the president of the United States unambiguously articulates racist positions toward Mexicans (Hispanics), Muslims and African-Americans, educators are put in the uncomfortable position of orchestrating a civil discourse, especially when students of such groups are in front of them. When presented with an obvious opportunity to condemn the evil that was and is Nazism, the president first waited, then relativized, then equivocated, then read from a teleprompter, then relativized.

Nazi and white supremacist groups that marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, cannot be considered a “side.” The president of the United States appeared to place the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville on the same moral plane as those who showed up to push them back! Such language and behavior will infiltrate every classroom. How will educators discuss such a response from the president to an obvious evil?

Ultimately, educators will be moved to address the issue of free speech. Should all speech be protected regardless of its value as per the constitution or should some speech that is deemed offensive be prohibited? That might be the type of discussion Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) would have brought to the public and to the classrooms, but since such is not the case, educators will have to carry on sans an intelligent, moral or rational president.

Larry Hoffner, retired

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