So, I meant to write this blog last week, but I think the message is still a good one, so better late than never. It all stems from my 5th-grade daughters, "moving up ceremony." I think ceremonies like this are inherently silly, but I am also the one who has only walked in 1 graduation ceremony ever. I was there for my daughter, but there was something before the ceremony that stood out to me. It was a simple slide show.
Before the kids walked in (again, it's 5th grade, so a procession is silly), someone had put together a simple slide show with pictures of the kids and of the year. The thing that stood out to me, though was that each kid held up a sign that said what they wanted to be when they grew, and the answers were pretty astonishing.
There were the usual pro athlete answers, but there was also a considerable portion that was for the sake of this blog, "high-end educated professions" Those included things like neurosurgeons, engineers, lawyers, and others. I could not help but wonder if that was a product of the area I live in, and I think the answer is almost certainly yes.
I live in the suburbs. It's an area with high-end professionals and filled with adults who are doctors, lawyers, and engineers. It's easy for kids to see those professions. It might be their parents. It might be their friends' parents. It might just be something their parents are setting them up to strive to. Whatever it is, I think it means that it's easier for kids to dream based on their location. It made me think, "How do we break that cycle?"
I would be very curious to see the answers from children in a school with a high poverty percentage. Are their dreams the same, or are they things that simply come down to are you blessed with a certain level of talent like athletics, music, and movies? Are their dreams things that can be obtained with hard work and education, or are they things that are just a bit more out of reach?
It makes me think that we almost have to have a focus on bringing those types of professionals into high-risk schools and letting them show those kids what their profession is all about. If kids can take field trips to see their profession in action, it's even better. Schools could do something like weekly career Mystery Skypes. It's all about bringing options to kids, and with them, maybe we can break the cycles of poverty that persist in both our country and the world.
The goal should be to turn a few. If we can help a few kids break that cycle, they can be the professionals that you bring into the schools for the next wave. Think about how compelling that story is. It gives them an example. It gives them the confidence that it's possible, and if you can continue on that, you might just have a movement.
Well, it's another week and another school shooting. Actually, there were two this week. I have written extensively on my blog about how I think we have to do something, we can't make schools armed fortresses, and the toll this takes on educators in the classroom. If you want to read some of those, look back to the time around the school shooting in South Florida that sparked waves of protest around the country. If anything those protests prove we still have a long way to go to get lawmakers to do something because this terrible version of groundhogs day continues to happen.
I instead want to make this blog a little different and focus on the students that became heroes to their classmates by making the ultimate sacrifice. Both at the University of North Carolina Charlotte and the STEM school in Colorado, students ran at and tackled the shooter. They prevented further loss of life, and both Riley Howell and Kendrick Castillo lost their lives in the process. The STEM school actually had multiple students assist including a future Marine.
What does it tell me? It tells me that all hope isn't lost, and it drives the point home that kids can do anything. We can complain and moan about what the new generation is, about the problems they face, and about where the world is headed, but as long as we are raising and teaching kids like Riley, Kendrick, and the others involved things will still be ok.
It also tells me that kids can change the world, and we need to do everything in our power to give them those opportunities. Just think of all the students that went home to their parents because of the bravery these students showed. It changed their world.
Kids really can do anything. We need to give them opportunities and projects that connect with the global community. We need to let them solve world problems. Almost any class can include projects that let students get there. Kids might be the group that changes things for the better.
Let's remember Riley and Kendrick, and let's put the power of change in the hands of our students. At this point, we sure aren't going to get the change we need from our government entities. So why not try the group that showed an incredible will and bravery.