Robert C. Thornett is a college and secondary educator and writer who has taught in seven countries. He has written in Education Next, Solutions Journal, American Affairs, Modern Diplomacy, Earth Island Journal, La Prensa of Panama, and Yale Environment 360. He currently lives in Panama.
The 1619 Project states that its purpose is to remember the history of slavery and racism that American schools have sometimes tried to forget. But mostly it teaches students the wrong way to go about remembering. It abuses remembering to promote forgetting America’s history of reconciliation and unity on race, so as to frame the nation’s identity as irredeemably stained and systemically, irreparably flawed.
Despite Americans’ instinctive openness, decades of deadly overdoses and mass shooting victims remind them that there have to be boundaries. The difficulty of controlling protests in Russia and China reminds them that closing down too hard can destabilize the government’s hold on society and trigger an exodus. The question that remains to be answered is whether these vast societies will push their limits to the extreme such that they lose the things that closure was meant to secure and that openness was meant to allow.
At a time when ideologies and slogans often pull us away from the difficult task of finding realistic solutions and building a world together, the approach of these authors reveals the necessity of digging deep to confront the facts as they are and recognizing the complexity of challenging issues.
When I first started teaching at a community college, I had no idea of the types of non-traditional students I would meet. Their resilience and motivation made me wonder if a non-traditional route is actually better, at least for some.