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Navigating Polarization With Your Children

In case you have been living in a cave for the past few months, 2024 is a Presidential election year. As is the case every election cycle the discussion of issues and politics is rapidly gearing up.  Regardless of one’s views, the increasing polarization of our culture is likely evident to us all. 

As difficult as polarization can be to navigate, it provides us with a critically important opportunity to model, practice, and teach how to have respectful dialogue with others whose lived experiences and beliefs differ from ours.  Increasingly, it seems that we identify people with their ideas, and when we disagree, the divide between us as humans seems to grow wider.  If, as our Bixby School mission says, we are helping our students “prepare to make meaningful contributions to their world”, I believe we have an obligation to teach our students how to practice being open to new ideas, to listen without judging, and to accept the possibility that others can derive different meanings from the same experiences.

The skills of empathy, perspective-taking, curiosity, and patience are critical to building rapport, even when we disagree. Another powerful way to practice the art of respectful disagreement is to start with what we have in common.  I recently listened to an episode of Hidden Brain that I found so enlightening in exploring this notion. I highly recommend listening to it if you have the time.

Hidden Brain: US 2.0: What We Have in Common