Do Not Lie to Kids. Just Don’t.

I was not expecting to well up while watching the end of The Goblet of Fire this afternoon.
 
I’ve seen the film a dozen times, at least; I know how it goes. I guess what got to me this time is the fact that Dumbledore refused to lie to his students. Toward the end of the film, he tells them that Cedric was murdered by Voledmort and then tells them that, “the Ministry of Magic does not wish me to tell you this, but not to do so, I think, would be an insult to his memory.”
 
Not to do so would not only be an insult to Cedric’s memory, but would also be disrespectful to the students.
 
I have been thinking a lot about what we do and do not tell young people – students, in particular. I’ve never been good at lying by omission. In fact, I lost a job once because I refused to not tell students the truth; I refused to smile and say, “oh, everything’s fine” when it wasn’t.
 
We expect students to be able to make decisions and to behave like young adults, but we disrespect them by keeping them in the dark about things that matter (whether those things affect them directly or not). If we want young people to grow up to be empathetic, to be able to think critically and well, and to make sound decisions, then we MUST give them the information they need to do those tasks. We have to model that behavior for them – we have to be honest and transparent, and we have to support and guide them as they navigate what we might otherwise keep from them because it’s hard or painful or difficult. We don’t get to complain that “kids these days” don’t know how to handle tough situations while we continue to lie to them by refusing to include them in real life.

In a week, I’m going to explain to my students that I’ve chosen not to renew my contract with the school and I won’t be coming back in September.  I’m not going to smile when they say “see you next year, Mrs. Chili!” and quietly sneak out after the last day.  I do not lie to students – I cannot lie to students – and while it’s going to be tricky to explain to them that I’m not coming back because I can’t ethically remain a part of that staff, I will not disrespect these kids by pretending that I’ll be back in September.

 

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