How it went-Sept. 5, 2017

Regrets, regrets, regrets. While I was busy bypassing today’s front page story about President Trump’s plans to possibly end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, often described as the “Dreamers,” President Trump’s administration was busy announcing, yes, an actual end to the program.  Of course, this is something we’ll want to discuss in our class news meeting tomorrow.  And now, of course, I’ve missed my chance to give background on it ahead of time.

But all is not lost.  The good news is: tomorrow’s articles are certain to have great details and background information, as well as the stories from young people affected — stories I’m sure my students will be able to understand so much more than today’s “insider baseball” story.

And, hopefully, today’s class news meeting set the stage for the deeper discussion we’ll have tomorrow.  Because today, we took it easy. That allowed me to focus on the bigger principles we’re trying to teach — the ideas about engaging in respectful dialogue, allowing others to speak, sharing your own experiences and background while also listening to different experiences and different understandings.

Today, I went with the easy story I mentioned in this morning’s “Quick Look,” the one about a retailer in Great Britain who no longer has separate Boys’ and Girls’ clothing section but instead is grouping everything from t-shirts to skirts in one “Boys and Girls” section.  This worked well for our discussion because it was a topic that’s easy to understand, and reasonably easy to consider other people’s opinions and experiences.

The students’ opinions ranged from: “Yes, I’d like a store like that because I often see clothes in the boys’ section while we’re shopping for my brother and I’d like to wear them but my mom says no, we have to shop in the girls’ section for you,” to “I wouldn’t mind it,” to “Why would a boy want to wear girls’ clothes?”  One student pointed out that boys might not be comfortable shopping near skirts; another said they could just choose not to buy the skirts. One student offered a sort of compromise: one large section that has clothes that could be for either gender in the middle, but they get more gender-specific as you venture in one direction or the other.  (“This way, a boy who wants a skirt will have to be brave enough to head in that direction, and that’s good because he’s going to need to be brave if he wants to wear a skirt in public.”)

Of course, there were needed reminders about not talking over each other and listening rather than having “side conversations.”  And of course, you can count on it to get off-track at some point, in this case the boy who envisioned something like the middle-ground and two-ends system, only it got darker and more foreboding as you headed toward the ends and the shelves included systems that shot lasers at you that you needed to dodge.

As I said: reasonably easy, but hopefully laying the ground work for a more serious discussion tomorrow.  We all ended knowing that we do NOT need to reach a consensus or agreement during our class news meetings, we can disagree and offer reasons why, and that we all need to listen to each other and respond respectfully.

And also, no lasers.



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