Whether we like it or not, we are all enrolled in Trump University. No, it’s not that Trump University that cost students up to $35,000 and resulted in lawsuits that candidate Donald finally settled for $25 million to make go away. Rather, this University will cost us all far more in state, local, and municipal taxes to make up for lost federal programs, not to mention after tax individual donations to key causes such as children’s pre-school programs, women’s reproductive rights centers, and, of course, co-pays to personal therapy for those really flipped out by this school’s craziness!
But, never fear. You have the skills you need to excel at this new ‘public” school, especially if you have already survived, or are currently living through any of the following:
- Grammer School — when as a small child, a bad teacher, a large adult by any childhood standard, seemed too big and powerful to contradict.
- Middle School — when the growing pains of puberty caused us all to feel awkward, caused us to get quiet and shut down, and become more inwardly focused rather than seeing what was really going on around us and that we had more in common with fellow students than not
- High School — when regardless of our strong friendships we felt outside the popular, or smart, or athletic crowd who all seemed to be succeeding at this school stuff better than us.
If you’ve survived any of these, and we’re willing to bet you have, you now have the life skills to survive Trump University, aka 4 years of the current administration. Here’s how:
- Show Up For Class. Don’t drop out. Don’t get so disgusted that you stop voting, stop watching political programs, or read the news.
- Stay Engaged. Don’t Tune Out. If you’re not getting the information you need, or find the info so boring that you can’t absorb the material, find supplementary resources. Create your own study groups or book groups. Attend Women’s March Huddles, start internet video chats (Google Hangouts or Zoom.us), find blogs or resources that get you the information that keeps you learning regardless of the formal curriculum coming out of Washington, D.C. See #5 below.
- Take Field Trips. Do Extra Credit. Educators usually agree that most learning occurs outside the classroom. Go to marches, attend local lectures and seminars, and visit museums that give you context on history.
- Pay For Your Books. Crack Them Open. Some students think if they just go to class they can skate by without investing in the expensive books. Lectures and TV shows are great, especially for visual and auditory learners, but due to time restrictions frequently can’t go deep enough into the course material to provide background and insights into an issue. For this “public” school, the texts include subscriptions to your choice of any print or digital newspaper, and weekly news magazine. Suggestions include a digital subscription to either the New York Times, or Washington Post, a weekly subscription to Time magazine , and video streaming either segments or the full hour of the PBS News Hour. For extra credit, donate to public broadcasting to support the PBS News Hour and other public documentary and educational programming including Sesame Street.
- Enroll In After School Programs. Sometimes school texts just aren’t enough. Get additional help and information with supplementary sources such a history online course, blog or podcast. One person’s current “after school” study list includes downloads of both The Daily and My History Can Beat Up Your Politics podcasts (listened to the car on the iPhone rather than radio), frequent check ins to The Past Lane blog, and a print subscription to The Atlantic magazine.
- Enjoy Extracurricular Activities. Learning should be fun. If the material becomes too heavy, build in breathers and consider some theatre and comedy. Obvious choices are SNL, This Week Tonight with John Oliver, and at least Bill Maher’s monologue. Download Wag the Dog, and Doctor Strangelove or:How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
- Know The Rules. Don’t Get Expelled. This is particularly relevant for people working in government or departments related to the government. Keep your head down and nose clean at least when at work. Do your studying privately at home and away from colleagues who can use information to halt your career, stop your progress, or even get you fired, ahem expelled. Your goal is to survive the bad public school we’ve been enrolled in, get home safe, and be ready to enroll in post-grad studies in four years stronger and wiser for the experience.
- Survive Bad Teachers Despite Themselves. Sometimes even the best schools have bad teachers who, for various reasons, are still in control of vulnerable classrooms filled with bright young minds. This year, we are forced to study Environmental Science under Scott Pruitt and Justice 101 under Jeff Sessions. Similar to #6 above, keep your head down. Then, go back to #5 above to get some solid information and add in blogs, sites and posts particularly to your desired area of study. Finally, donate to those sites, usually .orgs, who could use your support to continue to put out factual information about the field.
- Stay Committed to Learning Regardless of the School. You have no school choice. Your school district requires you to go to Trump School. What you do have a choice in is availing yourself of other resources, become active in other educational opportunities, supporting other educational resources. As in #1, don’t give up your future just because your fellow citizens enrolled you in a poor system. Your future is still in your hands.