Best Possible Selves 9
As schoolchildren in northeastern Massachusetts wake up this morning to the unexpected news of last night's election results, one imagines that they will be curious and potentially confused. They know that people in an open society are supposed to disagree about important things (indeed, this is one of our highest ideals), but it must be confusing to them when adults are quite so disagreeable with each other. Despite the unpleasantness of this election season, there is nonetheless a shared understanding that a deeply divided electorate must become better at disagreement. Elementary school teachers work on this with their students all the time, and perhaps in their wisdom there is opportunity for a teachable national moment. We want to empower our students with conviction and self-belief, but never in this process do we wish to diminish the legitimacy of others' ideas and feelings. Looking ahead, I do believe (as Mandela suggests) that education can create a pathway both for personal and for national reconciliation. My strongest hope is that all adults -- teachers, parents, elected officials, and others -- will strive at all times to role-model their best possible moral and spiritual qualities.