A student made a blatant generalization about the new president's policies. Given the past few weeks (given the entire election), it's risky business to stand up for the new president, and it wasn't my intention to do so; I'm a little nervous too--but it was my intention to correct the erroneous generalization. Regardless of policies, of missteps, of incendiary actions, truth must be upheld. Regardless of unpopularity.
"That's a generalization that isn't true," I told the student.
She asked if she could grab a computer and fact check.
"Absolutely," I responded, even if all truth doesn't come from the internet.
I was blindsided by what came next from a student sitting on the sidelines. "Can we just be kind and not correct someone who's wrong?"
Time stood still.
"I can't accept untruths to be tossed about in the classroom."
A few minutes later, I asked the student if she'd found her facts. She hadn't found the support she was looking for, so she espoused another untruth. "Trump says that all Mexicans..." I listened as she finished reading.
"That isn't what it says at all." We discussed it a little further and I asked her point blank, "Can you see that's not what he said?"
I was discouraged and near-defeated. The classroom synergy sunk to the lowest point I've ever known. Confrontation is uncomfortable.
"Can't you just stay away from politics?" Tony asks, a friend asks.
"The class is current events...a little hard to do so," I respond.
I can't shy away from this latest immigration bill that's put not only the nation up in arms, but my own students. We can't ignore what's happening. We are studying history in the making. Where will this all lead us?
We've got to be aware, but aware of the truth as well as the untruths. No matter where we stand, who we voted for, we can't tolerate anger-inciting exaggeration on either side.