With everything that’s been going on with the protests and the highly polarized state of the US and beyond, it is almost impossible to avoid conversations in the classroom about social issues and controversial topics.
How do we navigate the concept of voicing views on the internet? Should teachers remain silent? Should they speak out?
The key is mindfulness, I think.
In an age where it is considered a virtue to voice your views on a given topic on social media, teachers must be above all wise with how they use their digital voice. First of all, I know that when rushed, people tend to say and do things they regret. Before the age of social media, it was much easier to make mistakes or to change your position on things, because if nobody saw or heard you, you could sweep the moment under the rug. However, now that our lives have melded with the internet, things we as professionals say and do are forever immortalized for others to see. This is why I advocate for deep thought before making posts about sensitive issues. Here are some sample questions you can use to assess what you are about to post.
Q: Will this post age well?
Q: Will I regret what I am saying in the future?
Q: Is what I am posting true?
Q: Have I done enough research to add to this conversation?
Q: Have I listened to people closer to the issue?
Q: What are my blindspots on this issue?
Q: What is the motive behind my post?
Modelling this critical analysis of ones’ own thoughts is a key way to teach your students to follow a similar process when they are navigating the way they represent themselves on the internet. These questions are also a great way to help students practice mindfulness.
In the end, silence and speaking up are both not bad. I believe that teaching mindfulness will help students know when silence is required, and when speaking up is needed.