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Let's Take A Deep Breath

Though I am loathe to weigh in publicly on matters political, I would be abrogating my responsibility as chief steward of Wooster School's learning environment if I did not make some comment on the news that Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. One need only look at the front page of any newspaper or website to understand that this particular election outcome is worth trying to understand in so many ways.

Because as individuals, and as a nation, we'll all need time and perspective to try and understand what the future might hold, I'll keep this short and relatively simple.

Among the dispositions that we try to strengthen in our students is resilience. If something happens that is disappointing or upsetting, one needs to develop the skills to step back from it and learn. This can only happen when we've gained control of our emotions. Deep breaths help. We also teach creativity, innovation, thinking and the skills to implement those great ideas that can emerge. So, once one gets beyond failures or disappointments and gains some perspective and understanding, one can get to work on solutions. One can become active and contribute to shaping the future. Finding others who share your ideas is very helpful - there is power in numbers.

We also teach humility and the ability to think of the longer term. So those who view last night's election as a victory should consider those who don't. They should also consider why so many don't. Again, stepping back and considering what the next best steps are will be important. Can we make space for more discourse? Now that the contest is over, can we try to find common ground? Can we value good policy over entrenched ideology?

Sadly, this election became a contest over who could be more fearful and angry. We work every day to mitigate these emotions at school because they make learning so much more difficult. They also make civil discourse nearly impossible. We will continue to do so at school and hope that those in power will see this as a better road forward as well.

No one really knows what will come next. To be ready for that unknown, we all need to remain calm, and committed to the free exchange of ideas and to the reality that the representative democracy is difficult to manage, and sometimes to live with. But it's the best that we've got. Regardless of how one feels about the outcome last night, it's clear that we all have a lot of work to do as Americans.

Posted by Matt Byrnes in Learning, Thinking on Wednesday November, 9, 2016 at 08:46AM
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Matt Byrnes

Matt Byrnes
Head of School

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Non-fiction for Fun:

The Boys in the Boat, Daniel J. Brown

Great story and some very interesting history.

An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle, Rick Atkinson

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About School, Thinking, Teaching, Learning, etc.:

Why Children Don’t Like School, Daniel Willingham

Lots of neuroscience well-connected to the life of school, teaching, and learning.

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The Hard Thing about Hard Things, Ben Horowitz

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Things a Little Bird Told Me, Biz Stone

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