I teared up watching 3-star Air Force General Jay Silveria speak to the entire Air Force Academy yesterday, praying that we find and elect THIS kind of leader to our political system. But more so, I found myself wondering how powerfully educators could heal the widening divisions in the American and global social fabric if we ALL decided to focus on what really matters.
What if every teacher in every classroom in every school in America showed their students the passion of General Silveria for the importance of “we”. What if every principal in every school focused their communications to students and parents around these core messages? What if every teacher in every school took one day each month, forever, and planned their work around:
- Civil discourse
- Civics and government
- The Constitution
- Knowing and understanding “the other”
There is nothing that should keep any teacher in any school in America from playing this video to their students. This is a speech that should be embraced by teachers from Alabama to California. There is nothing politically controversial in what he said. There is nothing in any element of the Common Core standards that should keep teachers from building a unit each month, in any grade level and any subject around the bullet points of this short speech. You became a teacher to change lives? Well, here is a huge opportunity.
America is balanced on a divide today, as we were during the Civil War and the Viet Nam War, where the major events every day are framed by the extremes of our differences rather than the great middle that has buffered America from the radical swings of political and social pendulums for nearly two and a half centuries. We can teach all of the math, science, literature, and the rest to our students, but if we don’t get THIS right, all the rest will become decreasingly relevant. The center won’t hold. If we don’t raise a next generation of students who understand what makes us strong, the forces of division are going to win. General Silveria gets my nomination for Teacher of the Year. Period. What if your school got together and decided, “we are all going to be like him”?
One day each month; every teacher; every school; every grade level. No political agenda.
If you don’t want to? If you don’t think this message is important enough to passionately share with your students? If you don’t agree with it yourself? Then, with all due respect, and with my thanks for your past work as an educator, I too, think you should just get out.