Maybe it’s my age or the variety of good music I heard growing up, but some lyrics seem to live well beyond their years. The song Revolution, penned by the Beatles in 1968, lamented the Vietnam War and rang true for so many anti-war protesters. In the midst of a very unpopular and long quagmire where thousands of lives were lost, no real victory was realized as embattled troops returned to a seemingly unappreciative and event hostile homecoming. It was a challenging time for sure.
We all want to change the world right?
Anytime we find ourselves in a situation that seems inescapable we might consider how we ended up there and what we can do moving forward. War is evil yet sometimes inevitable. It wreaks havoc on all those involved (countries, soldiers, and innocent civilians) and leaves indelible damage long after victory is proclaimed. Just ask any veteran who is willing to honestly share their thoughts.
Notice to my young children 1974-1999
As a young mother, I forbid my children to have toy guns, not even a water pistol. Crazy some may say, but I could not in good conscience allow something in my home that I abhorred. I don’t think my children were damaged by my rigid adherence to this particular rule. In fact, one of my sons served three tours in Afghanistan and came back alive, no doubt due to his keen skill using a high powered rifle. Apparently not owning a toy gun for 18 years did not handicap his ability to defend himself, protect his troops, and to ward off the enemy.
The sad truth is, that in war, there will be casualties.
Why do I write about war and revolutions? Simply put, I believe there is a war for the minds of young people in a world of schooling that does not emphasize authentic learning. I believe that we accept this status quo because of compulsory school laws. We are told that public school ensures educational equity while training young people to become productive citizens. We believe that young people need to be formally trained and taught so they can take their rightful place in society. Cookie cutter classes producing the same kind of cookie is the goal.
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead
Free thinking for students is not on most K-12 public school agendas. The institution honors conformity, compliance and coercion. It is designed to keep order among the masses entering the school house doors on a daily basis. While it may recognize brilliant children, it is often too busy classifying them into the right box. There is little veering from the set grade level curriculum because it is too costly and time consuming to do other wise.
Creativity, innovation and grit are taught in metered doses through various checklists that good teachers try, all while ensuring that their students are ready to take the high stakes state tests every spring. Rigid time constraints, a plethora of testing, and cumbersome standards ensure that little time is left for authentic and meaningful learning.
We continue the practice of forcing all the square pegs into our round holes. The casualties are inevitable.
“Our students are products of what we model. Teach them dependence and submission and they comply. Teach them that certain behaviors trigger rewards and they catch on to the cues. Teach them to sit and raise hands and speak only when spoken to and they acquiesce over time. Teach them that passing the test and getting good grades is the sum of their existence in school and they work toward that end having no comprehension of what real, deep and lasting learning is. Teach them to find the correct answer, and they never strive, struggle, or persist at something difficult.” (Learning Unleashed pg. 63.)
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
In my book, Learning Unleashed, I provided a list of doable and practical action plans. There are several ways to begin the revolution. For the sake of your time, I won’t list them all here, but you can check them out in my book on pages 115-116.
One prerequisite: Each parent, educator, and informed citizen must be willing to relinquish old school paradigms and firmly held political arguments to see real educational change. We must sift through years of ingrained school propaganda as well as current school sound bites that tend to brand everything according to politics. We must care more about how young people learn best and less about their grades and test scores.
Most importantly, we must want an educational revolution, driven by courage, conviction and commitment on behalf of our young learners.
Until we put this war to an end, there will be casualties. I’m hoping the war ends soon.