Pretending the Holocaust and other horrific accounts in history can be taught in a palatable way is disrespectful and dangerous, especially in our polarized world. As educators, we have a responsibility to find age-appropriate ways to teach students real truths about the Holocaust and other atrocious historical events. Students need to understand the past—with all its disturbing and uncomfortable truths—to think critically and to examine their place in society and responsibility in creating a more just and equitable world.
Over the past five years, Turning Point has applied the lenses of equity, inclusion, and antiracism to approach teaching and learning, to guide our relationships with each other and our students, and to ensure that our school policies address systems that underlie inequities. I am thrilled to announce that we have synthesized and codified all this important work into a new webpage and accompanying PDF, Our Commitment to Equity, which I invite you to explore at the link below.
On this twentieth anniversary of 9/11, our children need to know that our community's commitment to justice is steadfast, because we owe it to them to help build a better world. Education is the key to combating stereotypes and building community across differences. As such, we have developed age-appropriate lessons to mark this 20th anniversary and to model hope and create dialogue. Please ask your child’s teacher for more information if you are curious.
Today, with the jury reaching a guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case, we saw some movement toward accountability. While there is certainly a palpable sense of relief in the air, one verdict does not signal systemic change. It signals a tentative step toward justice.
Whatever your political leanings, I think we can all agree that the polarization of our country has slowed our ability and responsibility to evolve as a democracy. Our children are the ultimate casualties of this divisive landscape, as they struggle to make sense of the deep chasm they see dividing so many adults in their lives. We owe it to them to continue foregrounding the values we want them to learn from us: candor, respect, integrity, kindness, sincerity, self-control, inclusion, equity, justice, and love.
I remember clearly when President Clinton appointed Justice Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, as I was just beginning my doctoral studies. While she was not the first female Supreme Court Justice, her ascension represented the breaking of a glass ceiling (I also naively imagined by the time I’d finish my Ph.D., the challenges women face juggling work and family would be ironed out!). But despite coming to terms with the too-slow rate of positive change, I did find myself inspired by and replicating some of her virtues: hard work, a life partner who would support my ambition and not be threatened by my success, and a commitment to mentorship and to service.
As we take a moment to appreciate where we have been, I think we must state the truth: that persistent racial inequities in myriad institutions in society are the result of systemic racism, and independent schools are not exempt. We charge tuition and can have practices that benefit those with financial resources. I believe we must use our position of privilege to redouble on our efforts to identify and address injustice both inside and outside our community and commit to embracing antiracism as a guiding tenet of our work.
Yesterday morning I hiked to the top of a peak in the Santa Monica mountains. After spending this past week facing a wall in my bedroom office, helplessly following the news while working on wrapping up this school year and scenario planning for next year, I needed to see the horizon and a broader panorama in order to reflect in and synthesize the wide-ranging feelings and thoughts that had collected during this agonizing week. This morning, I am looking at a very different panorama, and I am shaken by the images of rage, pain, and destruction that we all are seeing in our beloved city and cities across the nation.
Throughout my personal and professional life—my dissertation research, my high school and undergraduate teaching, my experience leading P-8 educational programs, and my counseling work with adolescent girls—I have seen firsthand hundreds of girls and young women wrestle with the challenge to thrive in a male-dominated society. Through their struggles, these young women continue to impress me with their resilience and fortitude.
Children develop positive self-identity through open conversations, being valued by peers, experiencing supportive relationships and settings, and by seeing other people with similar identities be appreciated and valued. A recent study by Sesame Street and the University of Chicago demonstrated that children as young as preschool notice and talk about difference in race, class, gender, culture, and religion. Open conversations with even our youngest children can help them learn about themselves and others.