After the news last night, my Teacher Brain woke me up this morning, reminding me that Scholastic's Let's Find Out fliers have an election edition, featuring this year's presidential candidate, her opponent, and a duck. Yes, I meant what I did there.
I'm seriously considering not sending the flier home with my students this year, because the only developmentally appropriate approach to take with my kindergartners about whether or not a woman, a duck, or a bully could be president, would involve much too much discussion about what my Super Stars have overheard or absorbed by osmosis from the social media that permeates much of their lives. Equal rights and the affirmation that we have the opportunity/responsibility to elect someone highly qualified to one of the most important positions in our country are worthwhile lessons and discussions to have, even with five and six year olds. Young children understand hope, change, fairness, kindness, safety, possibilities, right and wrong. Many of their parents have described bullying to them as an example of some of the most inappropriate, unkind, unsafe and untrustworthy of behaviors. No one should aspire to be a bully, and no one should tolerate one.
Five and six year olds won't understand the significance of email servers, foreign relations, or political double-speak, but they DO understand a bad man joking (?) about hurting their mommies, aunts, and sisters, and making their diverse friends move away or live on the other side of a wall. Those fear and confusion-inducing topics are not welcome in my classroom, no matter how much his supporters try to gloss over or spin them. In and out of my classroom, it's appalling to me that so many find what he says and does entertaining and worthy of their vote.
My professional judgement requires I advocate for the emotional well-being of my students, determining which content is informative and necessary, and which might be harmful. It's very possible that the simple photograph that is featured in "A Duck Can't Be President" will ignite uncomfortable feelings in some or many of my students, depending on the information and parental opinions they have likely overheard at home and out in public. I prefer to introduce and educate my students to the voting process itself, something photos numbered 1-4 in the flier do nicely. Perhaps this problem can be remedied by a simple trip through a paper cutter for the oversized teaching poster that's included with the pack, while the fliers themselves find their way into the recycle bin.
The only other time I've chosen to not utilize a take home flier from Scholastic was blogged about here. How do you decide what content is appropriate for your students? Do you decide as a grade level?