Posterizing the Marin Academy Political Community

After impassionately conversing with his friends on wide-ranging political topics, he sits back in his chair, immediately shifting to focus on our Advanced Physics Class. Hand raised, with a pensive stare at the board, he questions the need for an extra equation that he deems unnecessary. He continually probes Shawn, our Advanced Physics teacher, to get an answer to his question. Although Post’s off-topic question may seem like merely an attempt at being a contrarian and detrimental to the class discussion, Aidan Post is deliberately furthering the learning of the students around him.

As I sit down in front of Post, his legs perched on the library seminar room table, his relaxed yet engaged nature strikes me. As I inquire about his constant probing questions, the same light returns to his face and his hands begin to decipher his ideology. 

“Sometimes I wonder what classes are like, especially classes that touch on fairly politically charged subjects, when no one speaks up on them,” he definitively answers.

His voice contains prominent conviction as he begins to explain his relationship with the political climate in Marin Academy classroom discussions and the broader community. As a self-identified Moderate Libertarian, Post questions if these insights would be brought up without him.

“I almost feel like if I’m not in the class and I’m not speaking up about it there is never a conversation where even sort of national political diversity in terms of viewpoints is actually shown.”

The ability to engage in productive discourse in class is what originally drew him to this school over Redwood. The discussion-based classes throughout all four years of Marin Academy provided Post with the perfect opportunity to engage in the debates he deems so vital to learning. In this classroom environment, Post constantly shares his political and philosophical beliefs in an effort to grow as a thinker.

“I just like saying my ideas because if they are wrong then people point them out to me and then I’m not walking around thinking them anymore. So I get a lot of feedback on my ideas and because I get a lot of feedback my ideas get better.”

Although Post often expresses vehement disagreements that create tension in class, he does this in a deliberate attempt to provide equity to the political diversity of the United States in classroom discussions. These additions to the discussion frame people’s beliefs of Post’s contrarian nature.

Due to the geographic location of our school, we often lean left in terms of political ideology. According to Post, these political tendencies dictate the structure of class discussions and do not allow students to become exposed to any sort of conservative viewpoints. Post has noticed these harmful tendencies throughout his high school career; however, he does concede that some teachers are able to create a class environment where the rationale behind every viewpoint is spoken about. To combat the inefficiencies of the community, Post gives a voice to these hidden viewpoints, thus enriching their learning experience.

“Not necessarily in a way where I wanted the prevailing viewpoint to be wrong, but I just wanted to understand the justification for it, and oftentimes if no one challenges something in the form of a question or a statement, there is not a justification that is ever given.”

The lack of justification and the subsequent blind following is what Post emphatically dissents. Concurrently, Post claims members of the MA community become emotionally attached to their ideas, thus not allowing them to listen to critical analysis of their own beliefs.

“I think that people get attached emotionally to ideas whether political or not and when people challenge them and ask for justification, people get unnecessarily defensive and often times offensive in a way that is not rational. And that is something that needs to be worked on at MA and honestly is not really the fault of a lot of kids.”

As the conversation shifts to Post’s engaged role in the community’s political discussion and beyond, my attention shifts to Post’s infamous All School Email Saga that resulted in over sixty emails being exchanged with the entire school. In October of 2016, Post’s sophomore year, he sent out an all-school email, condemning all school emails. It read as follows:

All School Email Post sent in October 2016

 

My mention of this email evokes sudden and lasting laughter from Post as he recalls the fateful night when his high school reputation would change forever.

“Basically, I had just gotten back from my soccer practice…and I was tired and I opened up my computer. I’d already had gripes with kids about their all-school emails, but I opened up my computer and had five or six, multiple of which were from the Harry Potter Club, and I was just kind of annoyed.”

This nonchalant description of the saga that captivated the attention of the entire school community is classic Aidan Post. In fact, he didn’t even realize the magnitude of responses until the next day of school where hordes of people came up to him asking him what he thought of the responses.

“I remember reading the emails during math class and just being very surprised. I did not think that it would turn into that at all.”

Several of the responses to Post’s email condemned his comments on something the critics believed to be a sacred part of the school’s community. Post responded contrarily to the underlying motives behind these critiques.

“[This] is something that needs to be worked on at MA and honestly is not really the fault of a lot of kids. I think it’s that when you’re in a community that your long-term beliefs are never challenged. It doesn’t set you up to succeed in that [political] arena.”

In the upcoming years as Post graduates from MA, he hopes to engage in these arguments in college and beyond.

“I am pretty interested in philosophy because that seems to like a very pure form of argument and problem-solving. The colleges that I have been looking at have been pretty centered on free speech and being open to different points of view.”

Given Post’s vast impact on the political climate of the MA community, it’s clear Post will bring a thoughtful, questioning, and productive voice to his next community.

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