My Turn, Pam Everhardt Bloom: Let’s stop and think

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 6, 2022

By Pam Everhardt Bloom

Recent news about what makes people “uncomfortable’’ and how they react leads me to contemplate how some of these views about educating our children might eventually be reflected here in Rowan County.

It is encouraging that folks on school boards, in school systems and in private homes have been dealing successfully and professionally with “uncomfortable” issues for years. Yet, those success stories rarely make the news. When it comes to our children, I hope Rowan residents are capable of more rational thought and fewer emotional reactions to tugs from the news and social media. We can choose to ignore sensational headlines that often seem to be more about political pot stirring and manufactured outrage and focus instead upon what’s actually happening in our community.

At a minimum, some of the loudest voices across the nation would have us believe our educators are plotting as they make lesson plans. Honestly, do we really believe our teachers enter the profession to indoctrinate students rather than teach? I don’t think so. Let’s not jump to mob mentality in Rowan County because someone somewhere wants to win an election. Let’s use some common sense, talk to each other and offer support to our educators.

What designates “uncomfortable?” For the Christians among us, how many church leaders and parents have paused and thought long and hard about how to teach the brutal crucifixion of Jesus to their children? Nailing a man’s hands and feet to a cross can certainly be viewed as an “uncomfortable” discussion for a young child or to adults teaching this or other potentially disturbing Bible stories. Yet Christians around the world find a way to teach their religious traditions without banning Bibles and removing them from their homes and Sunday school classrooms. They believe their children are capable of growing into their Christian faith and trust their clergy as professionals, their Sunday school teachers as instillers of values and themselves as loving parents.

I believe children can embrace “uncomfortable” lessons at school just as they grasp their family’s religious beliefs. As a retired educator and children’s library associate, I have found that children of all ages have the ability and interest to absorb uncomfortable stories and facts and learn important lessons about life. Knowledge can make us better human beings and some of the best lessons happen through exposure to a variety of literature and yes, even the ugly truths found in our history.

I believe in teachers and their ability to teach on an age-appropriate basis. I believe in public schools and their mission to teach all children within a fact-based curriculum. I believe parents can and should continue school discussions at home while still honoring the professionalism of trained teachers and school administration. Education and parental opinion have coexisted for years. Can we pause and boast about the good that’s happening in public classrooms within Rowan County rather than succumb to political outrages being manufactured on a favorite channel or by the loudest voices?

Perhaps, more importantly, we need to remember that our children are watching us — adults. Will we teach them that shouting matches and uncivil language are the new norm? Do we want them to live in a world where you hide from anything uncomfortable or ridicule or ban whatever you disagree with? Or do we want our children in Rowan County to grow into adults who have learned how to have civil discourse, to rationally read and discern opinion from factual information, and to base their opinions on knowledge, empathy, and personal experience?

Can the majority of adults in Rowan County agree upon the importance of education and support our children and our hard-working educators rather than be diverted by politicized national trends? I hope so. Our children deserve a well-rounded education, not this recent “cherry picking” tendency to delete a comprehensive knowledge of history and literature. “Uncomfortable” stories and facts, whether in education or in life, will continue to exist long after the news moves on to the next inflammatory agenda.

Pam Everhardt Bloom lives in Salisbury.

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