What Lessons can be Learned from the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election?
We all witnessed a significant historical event this week. By all accounts, Hillary Clinton was poised to become the first female president in U.S. history. Millions of people around the world were shocked when she was defeated by Donald Trump. Virtually every major poll had predicted her win, but the polls turned out to be wrong.
So what lessons can be learned from this election? As a school leader, I think there are many. No matter where someone lies along the political spectrum it is clear that there are some fundamental and critical skills necessary in a strong democracy.
We all need the ability to:
1. Question and critique.
Fact checking became a hobby during the presidential debates because of the number of clear lies that were stated as facts.
2. Search for evidence.
A strong position has to be supported by evidence. Without evidence it is merely conjecture or opinion.
3. Synthesize and evaluate.
Some pieces of evidence are more valid and reliable than others. We need to be able to make sense of evidence and weigh its relative merit.
4. Draw conclusions and communicate a position.
It is important that we all engage meaningfully in the political process.
Although I was personally deeply disappointed by the hatred, disrespect, and misinformation that characterized the debates and the campaign itself, I am heartened by the fact that the important critical thinking skills that I've outlined above are what we develop in our students every day at Richland.
It is not enough that children learn how a bill becomes a law, or what responsibilities are controlled by the various levels of government. If we want to live in a caring, respectful, and equitable society, our children need to be able to think for themselves and not be swayed by false or biased information. Adults need to be able to do this, too, but my job is to make sure your children learn these critical skills and abilities.
Clearly we need their help to build the type of society that benefits all people.
Head of School