Fri. Apr 19th, 2024
Courtesy Times of India

Written by Robert Warden

It has been years since I have written a post in this series, but this topic took hold of me yesterday.

My first day back in a classroom was yesterday, and it went well, considering the inconvenient but needed safety measures which have been implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has gotten worse recently because of the delta variant.

As I read recently, however, it did not go so well for a certain chemistry teacher in a highly conservative part of Utah. Somehow, she got into talking about Covid-19, vaccinations and masking, before ripping into Donald Trump in a truth telling rant. Unfortunately for her, Utah – although dominated by Mormons – requires K-12 school teacher to avoid disclosing their religious or political views. Her violation of that rule, plus her rant, got her fired from her job (Utah teacher no longer employed after advocating vaccination and telling students she hates Trump (…/08/19/utah-teacher-no-longer/).

In my view, her views are basically correct and are an important point of discussion, especially for those who have been raised to think differently, such as most of her students (although the article does mention some students in her class supporting her). However, her approach was not correct. Rather than ranting about what she hates, if she had wanted to bring up these topics, and show why she believes what she does regarding politics, she should have started talking about what she loves instead of what she hates. She should have talked about her goals for society – goals that practically nobody short of a psychopath with no conscience, would admit to opposing.

In my community college psychology classes, I don’t avoid politics but I am subtle about it typically. I can refer to something

I don’t like jokingly, or at least without rancor, and also, most importantly, use psychology to refer to my goals for society, which have vast political implications. For instance, yesterday I used humor to mention what objective science is not, which in the particular instance that I cited, is the partisan Arizona audit attempting to find election fraud by Democrats when there was none.

Fortunately for me, however, my community college audience has largely been liberal, and I think it is even more so now that everyone in the classroom is required to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and we all have to wear masks. Nonetheless, a subtle approach might be helpful with more difficult audiences such as these high school students in Lehi, Utah.

Here are some of the things that I would say about what I would love to happen, in order to find common ground, in a mixed opinion setting:

1. I want everybody to have a decent home and end homelessness. Is anybody out there in favor of more homelessness?
2. I want everybody to have enough money to have a sense of security and enough money (or credits, etc.) to have the essentials in life taken care of. Raise your hand if you are against that;
3. I want people around the world to live in peace rather than in fear. I want an end to war and to senseless violence. Are you all with me? I thought so;
4. I want people to respect each other despite their differences, and be tolerant souls knowing that people will inevitably see things differently. Raise your hand if you are against respect and tolerance. What, no hands? (Wink, wink);
5. I want a world where nobody is obscenely rich and powerful in comparison to others, and nobody is impoverished and politically oppressed, with no voice in society. I support democracy and the one person, one vote rule. Can we all agree on these basics? I think so;
6. I want a world that respects knowledge and science, rather than opting for ignorance and science denial. I think we can all agree on that (especially in a science class);
7. I want people to treat other life forms and our planet with respect, and work to help preserve a good living environment, knowing that we are dependent on this beautiful and special world in which we live;
8. I want peace, love and understanding to prevail as it shall if humanity is to progress as it should. Can we all agree that humanity’s progress is a desirable goal? I think so.

I suppose this list could go on quite a bit further, but that is what I can think of for now. Perhaps you can think of some other items to add to the list?

If we make our case essentially about what we love rather than what we hate, and most importantly, about our shared goals, I believe that we can start making real progress.

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