Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Tool We Have Chosen

When I first woke up on Saturday morning to the news of the attacks on Paris, my first thought was to write to you- my students.

Before writing, however, I needed to wait for some time to pass, so I could work through my emotions- anger, sadness, resolve. I needed time to think about the ramifications these acts of violence have on our societies, but more importantly I needed time to make sense of the cruelty, the madness and the terror we see in our world.

I don’t think all the time in the world could have allowed me to make sense of these barbarous acts of murder and violence, but I don’t think that my not-knowing what to say, should stop me from writing you anyway. I think you need an adult voice at times like this to tell you that even as adults sometimes we don’t have the answers either. I do think, however, that these adult voices, maybe mine at this time, should be reassuring in reminding you of value and importance of the work we do everyday as learners.

I have been glued to my social media outlets since Saturday morning, reading and following along as so many people pray for peace, or wallow in anger, sadness and pain. This public outcry has forced me to think, “What is my reaction?  What am I doing? How will these acts affect me? How will I work for change?” And I can’t help but to think back to the work I do everyday. The work I do with you.

I see our school in particular and education in general as a place for activism, and the time we spend together as our best path to change. I see the work that we do everyday in our GCs, in our classrooms and with our classmates and peers as the most crucial of activist work. When people say they #prayforparis, I like to to think that I will #teachforparis instead.

It is easy for the us as the privileged and lucky people living far from violence to watch the world from the periphery and mildly react to the fray, but the harder, more difficult work, is to find ways that we can make change in our daily lives through what we think, how we feel, and most importantly by what we do and how we act. When we say Be The Change, we are not simply talking about the class you are taking. When we focus on the Skills and Qualities, it is not for the sake of an ambivalent home-share. We need you. The mission of our school and in the hearts of all your teachers is the desire to pass on the activist spirit. I think I can speak for most of your teachers when I say that over all, we want to teach you the path to peace and justice in everything we do. This is why we got into teaching.
Education is the tool we have chosen to change the world.
Paris needs you. Beirut needs you. Syria, Iraq, Indonesia….The world needs you. And the work we do to become educated, caring, communicative, collaborative and empathetic people is the only path toward a more just and peaceful world. Anyone can sit around and place blame and simplify complex problems into hate and slogans, but it takes the truly empathetic educated person to find solutions to this ignorance and violence.

I chose this work of being an educator, because I love peace. I chose this work because I respect and value young people as agents of change. I chose this work because I want to make the world a better place. I chose this work because I need your help.

So please take your work seriously. As you walk the halls on Monday morning, moving from one class to the other, remember that you are not simply waiting in limbo before you can be an adult and join the world. You are not stuck in a boring academic purgatory, waiting to make the world a better place. Remember that you are active participants in society right now. You are the world right now. So how you interact with your friends, teachers and parents is who you are. It is the world we inhabit.

You cannot wait to be a member of the world, you were a part of it from the moment you were born.

It is times like this that should awaken your activist spirit and remind you to ask questions, be open-minded, be emphatic and most importantly to be an active member of our planet.

We need you. I need you to be the change we want to see in the world.

See you next week…the work of justice and peace is a long road and there is no time to stop and rest.

1 comment:

  1. This a beautifully written piece which makes one think about what really happened. During these attacks in Paris, my friend was shot in the arm. She is now in the hospital in good condition. I have seen heartless comments like 'f*** Islam, We should wipe islam off this earth.' These comments are wrong and hateful. Islam is a religion of peace and Isis is a extremist group who has no place in this world. Think before you comment on a news story or on another item, your words can hurt another. - Georgia Hogg