What Politicians Teach

Did you catch the question from a teacher at the start of the second U. S. presidential debate?

The last presidential debate could’ve been rated as MA – mature audiences – per TV parental guidelines. Knowing that educators are tying the presidential debates to student’s homework, do you feel you are modelling appropriate and positive behaviour for today’s youth?

Trust a teacher to pack an entire lesson into just one question. The lesson topic: the role of politicians in our children’s lives. The big idea: politicians are teachers too.

Politicians teach our children what power can do. They teach our youth what kind of behaviour is actually rewarded in society.

When Trumpism, the Americanized version of Fascism, has millions of adults displaying all the behaviours we teach students to avoid, what is a teacher to do?

When our 24-hour media cycle continues to focus its full attention on loutish, boorish behaviour, what impact can lessons that last 60 minutes have?

Like many teachers, I am often overwhelmed by the expectations that classrooms be wombs for the genesis of a world rid of all social ills.

But while we teach tolerance and empathy in our classrooms, bullying and bigotry dominate media daily.

While we encourage civic responsibility and promote human rights in our schools, racism and prejudice is on full display at massive political rallies.


It’s hard not to sink into utter despair.

I scour the media daily for signs that the cult of Trump will be exposed for what it is – the marketing of a myth, the selling of snake oil. But there is no indication the end will come any time soon.

Now that crude and callous behaviour has been accorded relevance, it will take more than Trump’s defeat to end the Trump effect (the increase in racist bullying schools).

It will certainly take more than what is possible in our underfunded, overcrowded schools despite teachers’ best intentions.

It will take politicians seeing Patrice Brock’s question as a call to model the kind of behaviour worth emulating.

And it will be up to every ethical adult, not just teachers, to remind politicians of the responsibility of their power.

We teachers will continue to teach lessons about a different kind of power, the kind of power that pushes back the darkness: the kind that fuelled the civil rights movement, the kind of power that put a black man into a White House built by slaves.

It will take the harnessing this force more powerful, to turn Trumpism into a disgraced footnote in the textbooks of tomorrow.

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