Nobody will ever ask me to create a school curriculum. But if they did, I would suggest just two essential classes to help students navigate life.
Not home economics or shop. You can figure out how to hammer or bake on your own. While I’ve had reason to use algebra since learning it in 7th grade, I’ve never again used a band saw.
No, my two classes would be Dealing with Deceit and Managing Toxicity. The first is so obvious I’m surprised it isn’t already taught. Lies infect much of our world. Not just in the miserable nadir of Trump, but before. Religion demands we accept the most ludicrous untruths without a flicker of doubt. History encourages wild overvaluation of ourselves and our accomplishments. Commerce puts us on a treadmill, doing jobs we don’t like so we can buy crap we don’t need but are tricked into wanting.
Yet we assume people are honest. Back in April, when Trump said the nation would open up by Easter, I was talking to a neighbor who said, in essence, “Well, he must know something, have some secret plan, or he wouldn’t say that.” I almost screamed. Knowing all we know, educated people cling to a touching, baseless faith in the president’s honesty. Our default is still to automatically believe any random stranger is telling the truth.
We have to fix that. “Is this person lying?” should be our go-to reaction to just about anything. I’d have the class chanting it, declining it like grammar: “Am I lying? Are you lying? Is he lying? Are we lying?”
And toxicity. Social media is a snake pit of mean, stupid people, inflamed by certainty, shielded by anonymity, gleefully inflicting damage. Maybe if we learned that in 2nd grade, kids — and adults — wouldn’t suffer so much.
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