Glass Half Full: Election season and bullying tactics
October 22, 2014
There is nothing like the few weeks prior to an election season to remind me how the media can be used to reflect our worst selves. As a matter of principle, I make it a general practice not to vote for any candidate who resorts to personal, negative campaign attacks.
I simply don't trust anyone who relies more on an opponent's foibles than his/her own strengths. As an educator, one of my goals is to teach children to be discerning, to read and listen through the hype. Election season makes doing so a distinct challenge.
The concept of "bullying" is huge in the media. Parents are astonishingly quick to accuse even very young children of bullying their own. While it's not popular to do so, my response, frequently, is to ask the question: "If you have more than one child and one of them did to the other what you are labeling bullying, what would you call it?"
Please don't misunderstand, there are and always have been situations that are completely unacceptable, and I will go to great lengths to address hem appropriately. More often than not, however, with children it's a situation begging for education and support.
“It is always our responsibility as adults to consider our own behavior and its impact on the next generation(s).”
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Lake Tahoe School has a remarkable Character Education Program. In our case, it's organic, something we have developed as a faculty and administration, not something purchased elsewhere.
We have confidence in our own experience and the notion that children are living, breathing, growing entities, most of whom make mistakes occasionally.
Our Core Values include: treats others with respect; contributes to the classroom and community in positive ways; perseveres through challenges; willingly engages in the community of learners; embraces experiences beyond the classroom; works well independently; cooperates with others; demonstrates pride in quality of work.
We expect the adults in our School to model behavior that demonstrates good character. I expect the adults I respect to do the same.
Substitute "community" and "work place" for "classroom," and candidates who launch smear campaigns don't measure up, in my opinion.
It is always our responsibility as adults to consider our own behavior and its impact on the next generation(s).
James Baldwin once said, "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."
I encourage you to use campaign rhetoric to discuss words vs. behavior with your children. And the next time you get hot and bothered about something — especially someone else's behavior — stop and consider whether you would like a child, especially your own or a friend dealing with one of your children, to imitate you.
Would imitation be the best example flattery in such a case?
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.