Resilience in Changing Times
24 hours gives you time to evaluate, time to reflect upon the momentous results of the USA presidential election.
From initial disbelief, that a person with no previous experience of elected responsibility, whose electoral platform was often littered with racist and misogynist ideals, had connected with a large swathe of Americans to become the 45th President of the United States of America – confounding once again all the experts of the existing political order. To where I am now, 24 hours later, reflecting on the post-election analysis, listening to politicians across the globe trying to make sense of the result as they contemplate the new political order.
Many of our A Level Politics students sat up all night in school and watched the election results unfold on television. They were bewildered. Unsurprisingly, in a girls’ school, they had voted overwhelming for Hillary Clinton and found it difficult to understand how a person who had belittled women so publically could win. I shared their concerns but also feel strongly that as educators, we need to stop our pupils from catastrophizing, stop them from being fearful of the future and instead, to emphasise the need to respect the values of democracy, to understand what these values mean and the need to continue to fight for them.
Democracy is about hearing the voice of the people, but it is also about respecting the views of each and every one of its citizens, regardless of their colour, creed or sex. And it is this latter aspect of democracy we should be educating our pupils to fight for, in order to make a better, safer world.
In times of change we need our pupils to be resilient, to stand up for what they believe in and as educators instil in them this self-belief that they can make a difference. Instead of retreating and fearing the new order, they should be reaching out and connecting with others across the globe. Never before has the voice of the global citizen been so important and as Hillary Clinton graciously said in her defeat, we should continue to educate our girls to “Never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.” It is our role as educators to give them the confidence to do so.
As Mahatma Ghandi said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Jo MacKenzie, Headmistress, Bedford Girls’ School