Teachable Moments

My Letter to the Editor of the Lexington Minuteman was published in the March 15th edition.

From labor protests at the turn of the 20th century to civil rights demonstrations and war protests of the 1960s and 1970s, walkout demonstrations are a familiar part of American history.

Often stirring, sometimes effective, and always disruptive, it’s especially unsettling when the group walking out is youth and the place they’re walking out of is school. To many adults, this can be scary because we worry about their safety.

At the February meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson said, “We talk a lot here at this Board about the importance of teaching students about civic engagement and how democracy works. Well, this is it. This is as real as it gets. If this is not what we call a teachable moment, I don’t know what is, and I hope our educators take advantage of this opportunity to help model and teach their students about how we bring about change peacefully in a democracy.”

School is about teaching and learning and a priority for all at LHS and in all Lexington Public Schools. Research shows that activism correlates positively with their political participation, civic engagement, and commitment to their communities later in life. Will we assess ways to turn the LHS walkout into a teachable moment for students, staff, and the community, reminding everyone that student activism is a part of the learning process?

All of our nation’s schools should be safe havens, free of crime and violence. When violence disrupts that, we need to equip our students, teachers, and community with the tools necessary to continue making learning relevant.

Photo credit: Lexington Colonial Times Magazine