Parent Involvement

The Lesson Schools Should Be Teaching About the Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing

Like just about everything, the Kavanaugh hearing was a teachable moment. But it seems to me that many of us are teaching the wrong lessons. On a plane the other day, I caught a glimpse of a newspaper article. The headline ran, “Atticus Finch Would Have Defended Brett Kavanaugh.” Apparently, Judge Kavanaugh is not only as guiltless as Tom Robinson, but also as oppressed. This sentiment would be easy to discard as absurd, if it weren’t for a similar idea I’ve heard reverberate across the zeitgeist of American culture. “I’m scared for my boys.” Parents across the country have expressed fear for their boys, fear of their possibly being falsely accused of sexual assault. That apparently is the lesson they are eliciting from this teachable moment. And it’s wrong. Dangerously, arrogantly and willfully wrong. The onus is not upon girls and women to think twice about accusing a man of sexual assault. The onus is upon boys and men to never commit an act that could ever be considered assault. Period. I am emboldened, inspired and obligated to educate my boys on how to treat women, in all cases, with respect, care and the decency that ought to be afforded to all people. And, thankfully, I am not without resources to help me translate the lessons of the Kavanaugh hearing for my 6-year-old son. I will model consent in a way my 6-year-old boy can understand by not only listening to him when he says no, but also insisting he listen to others when they say no. And most of all, I will be the ever-present embodiment of a man who loves, honors and respects women at all times, not one who makes jokes about their bodies, talks over them or mansplains down to them. As educators, we should feel the obligation and inspiration to turn moments such as these into powerful educational moments. You can bring the conversation into the classroom by assigning pre-readings, preparing students with ways to frame disagreement as necessary for education—not polarization—and employing student voice in order to build an empowered citizenry. This is a teachable moment in our country. Let’s be sure we’re teaching the right lessons.
Zachary Wright 
Zachary Wright is an assistant professor of practice at Relay Graduate School of Education, serving Philadelphia and Camden, and a communications activist at Education Post. Prior, he was the twelfth-grade world literature and Advanced Placement literature teacher at Mastery Charter School's Shoemaker Campus, where he taught students for eight years—including the school's first eight graduating ...

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