Discussions in the Classroom
By Benedict Ogley, a student
My AP Human Geography class was one of the most formative classes I’ve had in my education thus far. The highlight of my time in the class was definitely my teacher, Mr. Hildenbrand. We went above and beyond the curriculum and had multiple discussions pertaining to current events. These open discussions were essential to my blossoming understanding of the world.
They touched on the topics of the time, and we were never shy to engage in a dialogue governed by respect, a bit of edge, and a willingness to learn from new perspectives (moderated by a teacher in good faith!). There were students of different backgrounds, beliefs, and religions talking to each other in good faith. The classroom was an intellectual incubator–a place where I could both speak up and listen! Oftentimes, outside of class, I shared the harsh reality that others have written about through the testimonies I read on NA For Change’s petition. These discussions are needed, and more importantly, they need to be approached with sensitivity and empathy–chiefly by educators and those that govern the conversation in the community.
So, something I was startled by was a letter I read on Facebook sent out by the School Board President in May outlining what would not be taught in schools: Black Lives Matter, white supremacy, and white privilege–all among the list. Having a surrogate of our school district implicitly shut down these conversations in classrooms is sending a message to our teachers that this kind of discussion is frowned upon.
Is the school really providing me with a good education when the educators proceed to neglect topics that affect each and every one of us–topics that include the largest movement in our nation’s history?
#IAmForChange because an education grounded in reality is worth its weight in gold.
Education must be well-rounded. Education is a lifelong journey, and stifling a free exchange of ideas and the ability to be honest in your classrooms inhibits the essence of education, which is becoming a holistically developed person who can positively impact society. It inhibits the district’s ability to carry out their stated mission of “preparing students for a changing world.”
Every student deserves the experience of open dialogue that I did, no matter the class. That starts with an open mind at all levels of the school district, a more comprehensive social studies education, and the humility required to be a true scholar.
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