Our Trayvons and Georges

It has been a few weeks since the controversial verdict was announced for the George Zimmerman trial in the death of Trayvon Martin.  I am an educator, and though my professional Twitter feed did not “explode” with tweets from fellow educators about the verdict, there were quite a few.

Some folks were upset.  Some were philosophical.  Others were reflective.

I chose to stay silent. Not because I did not have something to say, but because, in my opinion, this event, which has gripped our nation for months and will continue to do so for a while, deserved more than 140 or less tweeted characters. Given the limitations of tweeting, I did not want my thoughts to be misunderstood.

I say this because as one who takes her Twitter PLN seriously, I believe I granted gracious latitude to those I follow who tweeted in anger over the verdict with the exception of a few I chose to unfollow due to what I considered extreme tweets. For those few, the announcement of the verdict revealed a truth of character that saddened me.

To clarify, this post isn’t about whether or not I agree with the verdict. Rather it is about my reflections as both a parent and an educator.

First, as a parent, I am concerned. I have two kids in college.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I spoke to my them candidly about being kids and what they would do if confronted by an overzealous adult who misunderstood them.  We also had a conversation about the importance of following the directive of those in charge especially law enforcement. If a police officer says stay in the car, YOU. STAY. IN. THE. CAR.

Second, as an educator, this case has shed further light on the fact we teach students, which in some ways may represent Trayvon as well as those who may represent George.

In other words, we teach both the misunderstood and the misdirected.

So, how do we as educators help the Trayvons and Georges in our classrooms and schools get past being misunderstood and misdirected and not end up dead or in prison?

I believe it boils down to helping our students develop trust in one other.

George did not trust the police or Trayvon. Trayvon did not trust George.

Without trust there can be no respect. Without respect there is no hope.

And we need hope.

The kind of hope that anyone told by the police to stay put will do just that.

The kind of hope that any kid carrying candy and a drink will make it home alive, so he can be in a classroom the next day ready to learn.


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About barbarawmadden

I began teaching in 1981, but after a few years decided staying home with my children was what was best for my family. After almost 20 years raising four children, I returned to the classroom in 2005.

2 responses to “Our Trayvons and Georges”

  1. Rob Raphael (@lategrad) says :

    Teaching them to respect each other is a totally honorable thing to do. I would add that the voids of knowledge that I perceive trouble me, and they draw me into those conversations, as an educator desperate to change misconceptions. Too many young people do not understand that the accused are still innocent until proven guilty; and the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Too many think it’s perfectly fine to lash out and threaten others that don’t agree with them, instead of forming reasonable arguments that stand on merit. Too many think traditional media outlets are actually giving them a balanced view of the news. Too many listen to famous personalities that keep the race debate alive for their personal gain. Too many think that the rest of the country shares these extreme views. Too many aren’t willing to look at the world through the eyes of someone with different experiences.

    Mutual respect is great, but too many of our young people end up on the Jay Leno show showing their ignorance of current events. As a social studies teacher, this is the void of knowledge that upsets me and motivates me the most. We have a duty to inform our children about public policy, fundamentals of law and the difference between propaganda and fact; how to research and how to form educated opinions. Otherwise that mutual respect will be hollow and, I believe, temporary.

  2. barbarawmadden says :

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Rob!

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