Being Mindful of Sharing Opinions


Aaliyah Coe and Anaya Chambers

In any learning environment, the goal is to educate. Any teacher who is tasked with teaching history or literature has probably faced the dilemma of addressing controversial topics in the classroom. These discussions can cause mixed feelings. It’s important to address controversy and to debate; it’s part of becoming a critical thinker. 

Students should be able to voice their opinions during these discussions, but they also need to keep in mind that their opinions could hurt other students in the classroom. Public schools are for everyone, and everyone should feel welcome. If there is a discussion about immigration, a student whose parents are immigrants should not feel uncomfortable. AL wrote an article recently stating how Alabama schools have been becoming more diverse with Hispanics leading in that growth. Hypothetically, a student who is an immigrant should not hear from a classmate that “they hate immigrants” and they are “ruining the country.” These kinds of comments do not contribute to a positive learning environment.

Sophomore Lenora Lee revealed that in middle school a fellow classmate wrote a racist story about Muslims, describing Muslims who “had terrible breath” and “burned Bibles” and the story ending with the main character of the story “heroically” murdering them. A student that was in the class with Lenora then raised her hand to express to the class that the story was highly offensive and inappropriate, and the teacher dealt with the situation appropriately. 

In Madison, we have students from many different countries and of different cultures. It’s important to celebrate the diversity of the community because it’s one of the things that makes our area special.

Perhaps it’s best to keep the following in mind: “If you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Students should be taught at a young age how their spoken and written words could hurt a fellow classmate. Teachers should pay more attention to what their students are saying, and students need to treat each other with respect and civility.