If you, dear reader, have been a follower of my blog its likely that you’ve noticed I will occasionally talk about my young boys. I have 3 boys – 7, 5, and 2 months – and they are an inspiration and motivation. It is likely that you have also picked up on some of my guiding principles on this blog. Seinfeld famously had the “no hugs, no lessons” principle for his tv show and my blogging guide has become no inspirational cliches and write fast with few edits. The former principle is two-fold because 1) my mind works more analytically and less emotionally so I’m not good at it and 2) when done poorly it makes me cringe. And honestly, alot of the edu-motivation makes me feel more burned out than supported. Look, I wish I could do it well because it gets clicks. The latter principle is also two-fold because 1) I want to get my ideas down and posted quickly and 2) when I start editing too much I get so caught in polishing that it would never get published. It also lets more of my voice out (I think so anyways).
All of this is building up to my thoughts on this weeks tragedy in Florida. Yet another mass shooting, another at a school, and another round of the familiar reactions. My heart goes out to the families and friends of tgose that lost their lives.
I have given up arguing with people that disagree with my position so I am not trying to convince anyone in this post. I support most Progressive gun control legislation. In fact I swing harder to the left with every incident but after Newtown I became numb and certain that nothing would be done. I have had 4 active shooter trainings this year. 2 at my base school, 1 at a colege, and 1 for my church. I have been forced to consider how to barricade doors, what I could use as a weapon, and how to get out alive.
When I drop my 2 boys off at their respective schools… Well, I can’t think about that without choking up… I read a NYTimes piece describing the wail of agony after Newtown when the parents waiting for news about their children at the firestation found out their children were not coming home. Thinking of that and the car rider line makes me cry and gives me nightmares.
The inaction and willingness of people to buy into the obvious misinformation, misdirection, and misrepresentative statistics is my despair. The inaction of our political leadership is my despair. The utter contempt for life shown in some quarters is my despair.
I often hear adults decry the current generation of students. I have heard these students called lazy or too worried about their phones. But I think we have missed something about this generation. It relates back to our modern concepts of education.
The students that lived through the Florida assault immediately began speaking about the tragedy. They have grown up in a post-Newtown world. There response was not to wallow in grief or fear. Their response has been to take action and to call out the nonsense from their leadership. Within a day of the most terrifying event they will likely ever face some of these young adults were responding directly to the President!
I can’t help but think that “21st Century” skills stress both student voice and collaboration. This generation of students has been taught that their voice matters. While the game concept of Autonomy and Choice are useful as engagement tools isn’t the true purpose of these mechanics? That they understand that that their voice matters in this real world scenario. Any teacher that talks about voice and choice but thinks these kids shouldn’t speak out is just trying to manipulate their own students.
This generation is also connected. When the President of the United States or an Anti-Gun Regulation Congressmen or commentator tweeted what these students thought were empty platitudes they responded – swiftly, severely and with a clear, unified message. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other platforms I don’t know about have amplified that response. This is the ultimate expression of Relatedness. Social medias role in what has (and what is about to) happen has been intense. If we thought Twitter was important in Trump’s rise then we are about to see how truly poweful social media can be when a group of motivated Digital Natives with a righteous cause on their side take to the digital streets. We are already seeing rallies and walkouts taking place as students organize. It is truly an awed inspiring expression of Relatedness, Autonomy, and, I think most importantly, Purpose.
The Florida victims have had 4-5 years to see the reactions to other mass shootings. The Anti-Gun Regulation movement has used the same ‘thought and prayers’ playbook so often that these teenagers knew exactly what was coming. Thybwere literally streaming the events as they were happening. They knew the response and now they are countering with something that is truly amazing – righteous indignation and an organizational effort that is tailor made for their generation. Our schools have been unwittingly preparing these young adults for this moment for years. No, they have not been indoctrinated by some liberal agenda. They have been taught to think critically, to use their voice, to collaborate and advocate for their position. They are building a case, they are supplying evidence, they are using peaceful but aggressive protest. Agree or disagree but be proud that they are actively engaged with our civic process.
I pray every day that my sons will not have to live through something like what happened in Florida. But I also pray that I am raising them to respond in this exact way if they see a problem in the world that needs to be fixed.