This summer, and even more so in the fall, the issue of systemic racism in America will, and should, come to schools around the country. How might we help channel that energy in positive directions?
Three weeks ago, P/ATH, a tiny start-up non-profit produced a 59 second video with messages urging action against racism from some of the most famous athletes and coaches in the history of American volleyball:
For educators, here as some of the lessons we are learning from this one simple example of a completely organic, informal, values-based learning pathway:
It finds common ground: Based on comments across social media, there are people who have viewed and support the message ranging from self-described Christian conservatives to far-left progressives.
It reaches a range of geography and demography: Schools, colleges, and sports clubs from big urban coastal areas and small rural “fly-over” states have re-shared the videos with their own followers.
It stimulates conversation, even if some of that is difficult to hear: A tiny number of comments fall into the category of (literally) “Go to hell”. Many more comments begin at least some degree of conversation around the core issues.
It prompts real action: A largely White 12-and-under softball team in Oklahoma posted pictures of themselves wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts; two of the softball legends sent that team a message of thanks and support, which is about the most positive learning reenforcement a child can receive. Two varsity teams at Princeton have publicly posted their action plan, and they are already engaged in implementation. Hundreds of individuals and teams have posted their names with the promise to have a discussion around race and take some kind of action.
How might your school community use these videos to start and stimulate civil discourse in the fall? How might they help launch action plans, regardless of a student’s or teacher’s affinity for athletics? How might students at your school channel their energy and ideas in ways that are constructive and nurture civil discourse?
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