By In Hawaii

Learning To Talk About Politics From Middle School Students

For every 10 venom-soaked diatribes there is at least one person on social media urging people to show each other aloha, asking why we can’t put political parties aside and come together.

I thought a lot about that question. I, too, want unity in this country and healing in relationships that have strained during the Trump years. So why were group discussions with seventh graders more enlightened and human than the dueling lectures I’ve been having with adults lately?

There’s something to be said about the willingness of young people to recognize what they don’t know, and its obverse stubbornness that comes with age. The classroom setting also plays a part, since the reality of having to see the same people several times a week for the rest of the year naturally regulates behavior.

Those explanations aren’t complete, though. There was something else that was different, an absence like a black hole: difficult to pinpoint but unmistakably there. This may sound like I am joining the chorus of folks bemoaning the death of civility in our national discourse, but I’m not really, though being nice to one another is always preferable.

To me, the main distinguishing characteristic of my seventh graders’ discussions was the absence of absolute lunacy…

Read more at Honolulu Civil Beat