The election campaigns and the presidential results have weighed heavy on our kids, along with what life circumstances they take to school with them. Tensions from adults and the media have influenced our kids anxiety levels, behavior, and safety. Schools are supposed to be a safe haven, a space for learning, positive experiences, and support for those who lack them. As many teacher’s have heard and witnessed, a dramatic rise in bullying has erupted in the wake of the election results. Divisive rhetoric has influenced the minds of some of our youth, and have targeted their minority peers. It is imperative now more than ever that we reinforce positive behavior, respect, acceptance, empathy, and good citizenry in our schools. We cannot necessarily change the political beliefs of their parents or community, but we can teach our kids how to respect one another within the school environment, and hopefully outside of them. Both students who are feeling trauma from the election, and those who are bullying will need direction.
As art teachers, we have a powerful role in how we can shape how to see the world, and provide sanctuary. We can find ways to help our kids express their trauma, connect to ideas and emotions, and use metaphor and imagery. Art is a catalyst for many things. Art is collaborative, and can be a vehicle for students to work towards a common goal and see each other’s humanity. The road ahead will be challenging, but not impossible. We must strive to do our best to protect and provide for our kids, and redirect those who have acted against their fellows. Remember to replenish yourself as well, as this is a tiring but noble profession. Continue to do good work.
(Image Below: Statement from the Michigan State Superintendent)