I just came across this on yahoo news: 8th-greader who skipped Paul Ryan photo op: We're not brainwashed.
Instead of just ranting or siding with my personal beliefs, I'm going to look at this story from several perspectives.
If Kenzie or Cash would have had this opportunity, I would have: Made them attend the photo op. Regardless of their political beliefs (or the political beliefs of their parents), I would have encouraged them to meet a successful adult. I would have urged them to behave civilly and to ask Mr. Ryan his opinions and why he holds those opinions. If they strongly disagree with those opinions, I would encourage them to write their opinions down and share them with Mr. Ryan. Although it seems the kids were simply put in place to be more of a background to Mr. Ryan rather than to meet him or have an type of interaction with him. If it would have been a one on one meeting Kenzie was to attend with Mr. Ryan, I would never let her stand him up. But to simply be a backdrop? I think the student has made her point quite effectively and far more efficiently had she shown up and quietly disagreed. I would feel this same way if Kenzie would have chose not to attend this same function with a liberal leader chose not to attend and penned a thoughtful response.
What I like about what the 8th grader did: She made a strong choice, stood behind her choice, and responded in a proper fashion by writing a rebuttal to all the criticism she received. Isn't this part of civic discourse and critical thinking? Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you are on, wouldn't you want your son or daughter to respond in such a way?
What I dislike about what the 8th grader did: Nothing. This seems to me to be a result of our 24/7 news media. If 150 years ago, a teenager (had that term existed back then) wanted to skip a photo op with Abe Lincoln (just humor me), would anyone have cared or known about it? No.
I think it's better to have them not attend than start booing and being disrespectful. Again, if she was my daughter, I'd have encouraged her to attend and respected her decision to not attend - as long as she could have effectively supported why she chose not to attend.
What I would say to the critics:
Here are a couple quotes from the article from the critics -
“Most 13- and 14-year-olds have neither read widely enough nor lived long enough to have fully formed, independent political views; they are more likely to parrot whatever they’ve learned from trusted adults,”
I would argue that this is true for a VAST majority of adults today, not just kids. Honestly, what adult today in their 20's-40's has read widely enough to have independent political opinions? And Facebook doesn't count for political discourse either. How many adults have changed their opinions about anything or just followed along with what their parents taught them (or worse, what pop culture has taught them)?
And isn't that what we want our youngsters doing? When I tell Kenzie that curiosity, empathy, honesty, and hard work are virtues, of course I want her parroting what she has learned from her parents!!
That is one reason the late Phylis Scholarly, with whom I disagreed on every conceivable issue, argued for home schooling so fervently: she wanted kids to be influence by trusted adults (mostly who agreed with her side of the political spectrum, though).
And, be honest here critics, if this was a young person who disagreed with Obama's and Hilary's agendas and chose not to attend, would you be leveling the same type of criticism at them?