In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol in Washington, Connecticut teachers are having hard but important conversations with their students. Some have shared their lessons and the discussions they’ve had with students with the media.
Berlin High School social studies teacher and former Connecticut Teacher of the Year David Bosso told the CT Mirror that it’s important for teachers to make sure students feel safe to share their perspectives and opinions. He added there’s no room for teachers to remain objective when it comes to issues of humanity and decency.
“There are certain decisions about how much do we sanitize and how much do we whitewash things,” Bosso said. “In a social studies class, in particular … to some extent, we have an obligation to make people aware of the truth, and a lot of the truth is ugly. We shy away from it, I don’t know if we’re doing right by our students.”
“In almost every single one of my classes, the students brought it up before I even could,” said Karley Reising, a social studies teacher at Robert E. Fitch High School in Groton. “And especially my seniors were really struggling with what this meant about the future of our country in a way that was pretty heartbreaking.”
Woodstock Academy social studies department chair Sara Dziedzic discussed the 25th amendment, what sedition means and how the word has been used in the course of history, as well has how the media has been covering the event with her juniors and seniors.
“I plan on starting by asking what questions do they have, to see what I can address,” she said.
Students in Michael Freeman’s AP American Government class at Stonington High School, spoke about the shock of watching Wednesday’s events unfold.
“It is something important and something that we will remember,” said junior Molly Neale.
Their teacher, Michael Freeman, said it was important to facilitate the opportunity for his students to discuss recent events and that the discussion won’t end this week.
“I want to reassure them through the rest of the year, it is a year long class, that this is an anomaly,” said Freeman. “It is not how patriotic Americans normally act and there is still hope. Our democracy is fragile, but even an event like this can be learned from.”
“We really are trying to learn and observe what is happening so we can make the best decisions we can when it comes to be our time to be in charge,” said sophomore Rachel Fretard.
When it comes to the youngest students, discussing traumatic events can be even more challenging.
Rochelle Brown, Connecticut’s 2021 Teacher of the Year teaches kindergarten at Poquonock School in Windsor and had five-year-olds asking her if she had seen what had happened on the news.
“I think even for four- and five-year-olds, when they see things, they have this need to talk about them,” Brown said. “And for me, as their teacher, I just wanted to be as open and honest with them as I could in a way that they would be able to understand it.”
Brown explained to her students that even adults can make poor choices and be afraid of people and things they don’t understand.
“I didn’t want to make it too heavy for them,” Brown said. “I think that they felt better, and one of them said, ‘I’m so glad that you’re my teacher and you don’t feel differently about me because I’m not the same color as you.’ I think in their own way, they do understand what’s going on—they are taking it in and, to me, it’s just absolutely heartbreaking to have a conversation like this with a four- or five-year-old.”