From our teacher - Pandora Hobby
When my son, at the age of 5, asked me if the Zombie apocalypse would happen (he had participated in the zombie walk that year) I said I thought it would be more like an illness, a pandemic. Little did I know. I have always been very open with my kids, no sugar coating, pragmatic explanations, and further inquiry together if I haven’t got an answer.
This is my stance in the classroom too. I like to play the devil’s advocate, flip the script, ask students to consider all sides, offer alternative versions. In my classrooms we play scruples (what would you do if...), we talk about crazy historical and scientific facts (some cats are allergic to people), I try to keep it as open as possible. If a student brings up a difficult topic, in a class I try to run a diplomatic line. Unfortunately, when historically dire events are occurring it is impossible to avoid mention. We, as teachers must stay informed and be knowledgeable enough about news events to tread a tightrope of acceptable public vs private opinions. It is what makes for good conversations and we are in a historical moment when conversing is becoming a lost art.
And yet, and yet... with only one all encompassing story running through the media and on everyone’s lips for weeks at a time, with only one story that is both dramatic and bleak, heartbreaking and isolating, I, as a teacher spent hours finding the one, lone ‘other’ story to share in my classes. Covid ‘once removed’ stories of bike sales going up, of how different people were successfully coping. The sudden rise in drive-in theaters’ popularity, would you go see a live band while sitting in your car? If students insist on talking about the present elephant in the room, I might revert to analogizing the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ a way to both create distance and include some elements of fact rather than speculation.
I see my role here as directing the conversation to a place of reassurance. I know it is still a similar topic broadly, but I would rather debate a student’s favorite food delivery service than talk about recent statistics and policies.