Election Day

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Well, it’s election day.

It’s a stew of anticipation and anxiety. It hints at resolution (or relief), but a third grade conversation I heard today captured a big question.

tonight’s the election…”

“yeah, tomorrow we’ll know who won.”

“…then what happens?”

I took the question to be broad in scale. In one sense, she was asking a personal policy question. Having lived through a year of anticipation, how will this event affect our daily lives? More immediately however, I sense she was asking a social question – what will we talk about now?

Or perhaps, how will we talk to one another now? As adults many of us have felt the cracking edges of civil discourse and kindness. It’s been enough that many families say they have just stopped watching/listening/talking because of the baseness of the language and conversation. So, we have some rebuilding to do.

I attended a conference of our regional schools association this weekend, where the Executive Director (#NWAIS) gave voice to a deeper concern I share. If, as many writers have suggested, this election has led people to social and online spaces where “discourse” is primarily an echo chamber of our own ideas, are we simply reading to reinforce our own positions and beliefs?

These are big questions for us to consider at Westside School. We speak passionately about the centrality of community and work hard to equip students with the skills to communicate effectively and create powerful networks. But we must ask ourselves how we help students ask thoughtful questions about authorship and audience. We need our graduates to ask What is not being said?Whose story is not being told? Our commitment to building empathy and social awareness from an early age looks to take on increasing importance in what happens next.

Click here for more interesting reading – Jason Boyers links school’s work in creating “professional readiness” with their ability to foster empathy.

Ted Kalmus, Interim Head of School

Follow Ted on Twitter: WestsideHeadTed–@tedkalmus