The Concord Academy curriculum fosters critical thinking, offering classes that analyze multiple perspectives. Teachers discuss liberal, socialist, leftist, and even moderate viewpoints, but very rarely will one walk into a CA classroom with a serious discussion around Republican or conservative policy.
While conservative views are expressed occasionally, it is rare in many classes for them to be given the same amount of thought or class time. Teachers often gloss over conservative perspectives that might offer valuable viewpoints in discussions.
The limited discussion leads to unfair generalizations, specifically the painting of many Republicans as sexist, racist, homophobic individuals. The Republican party undoubtedly has many flaws and bigoted members— look at President Trump and how he has handled the Black Lives Matter movement and his taxes (or lack thereof). However, nearly every political party has members who are unfit to represent the entire ideology. While Trump may be the figurehead of the Republican party in many ways, not all conservatives share his bigoted views, and projecting his beliefs onto every conservative is incredibly harmful.
Right-leaning opinions should be respected in discussions about current events and politics, even if they are not popular. We should learn to empathize with other viewpoints, to read about every aspect of a topic before forming an opinion. This luxury is not afforded in many conversations at CA.
Teachers should encourage more empathy and understanding as to why people have the opinions they do. Ideas with which the majority disagrees should not be immediately discarded, and the CA community should grow to be more receptive to conservative opinions.
The lack of recognition around conservative opinions hinders students’ abilities to argue and fully understand issues. This culture denies students the ability to find common ground with peers and work towards compromises with those who have different political views. The liberal values widely held at CA are not global. Teaching students to dismiss unfamiliar viewpoints and conditioning them to excel among only peers who agree with them is ultimately a disservice.
The quality of CA classes is unquestionable, yet throughout the past few years, the close-mindedness of this community has been striking. For a school that prides itself on its tolerance, it fosters a strangely close-minded political environment.
I deeply appreciate the consideration of the CA community in regards to many important topics as well as teachers’ obvious interest in educating their students. The left-leaning majority of the school has spurred lots of change, and I value the education that so many encourage. Many of the discussions CA fosters are far more thoughtful than most high school environments could hope to achieve, and I hope that one day CA will extend this consideration to include more conservative opinions as well.