I recently rejoined the ranks of substitute Elementary Ed. Assistants and I haven’t stopped racing from one class to the next since the second week of school. While I’m busy working with students on their reading, writing, and arithmetic, they’re busy teaching me some incredible things about life.
Two weeks ago while working with 5th graders who were studying the electoral process it was decided they should hold a class election in order to better understand the concept of campaigns and voting. Were they excited!
Then came the first challenge: Creating a platform and crafting a slogan. One student, who occasionally goes by the nickname “B” had a great pitch that immediately hooked me, even though I had no say in the matter.
Then came the second challenge: His opponent, who was also a friend, decided that his slogan would be “Don’t vote for “B” his secret nickname is a bug!” Naturally, “B” didn’t care for that and came over to talk to me about it.
“Well,” I asked after listening to his frustration, “What do you think of when you picture a bee?”
“It’s a hard worker, and it’s got a stinger so it can fight if it needs to!”
“So you see a strong creature?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s fierce. It’ll defend its hive even if it means it’ll die. And bees work together.”
“Kind of like what you want to do,” I said. “Work with your classmates to improve the things that matter to you. So is it a bad thing to be compared to a bee, or can you use that silly slogan to your advantage like William Henry Harrison did with the Cabin and Cider Barrel joke?”
“B’s” eyes lit up. “I’m going to use it! But I’m not going to call my friend names back, because we’re friends. I’m going to focus on the issues instead!”
As “B” left to join the rest of his classmates I couldn’t help but marvel at how wise this young man was and how much we adults could learn from him.
It’s voting season again and my TV and news feeds are filled with one mud-slinging campaign and political rant after another. Too often the focus of an election is on how bad the opponent is rather than addressing ideas on how to resolve the numerous issues affecting our communities and nation.
How much different might things look if our discussion was about what we could do to improve the things that matter instead of arguing about who is going to just make things worse instead?
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwvc/6306132745/”>League of Women Voters of California</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>