April 3, 2023
What do we owe our kids? What do we, the people who consider ourselves adults today, owe our kids, all of our kids across the globe, in every home, in every community, in every social class, of all abilities, and in every identity group? This question is not directed to parents alone. This question is directed to the entire global community.
When we say that we are doing something for the kids or for future generations, do we really mean it? Sometimes, it seems that we construct an illusion of who children should be and then pour all our energy into defending that illusion, regardless of what real kids are saying to us. Some of us tell our kids that they can be anything. Some of us tell our kids that they are our whole world. Some of us believe and announce that our kids are the future. Are these just empty proclamations or is there real love and truth behind these words? If you subscribe to any of these ideas, what does it mean to you?
If our kids reveal to us a truth about reality, are we open enough to hear that truth if it challenges our understanding of how the world works? As educators, do we have enough regard for our students and the youth of the world to let them expand our experience of reality? The longer I teach, the more humble I become about how much I know about the world. The longer I spend with my students, the more convinced I am that they too have something to teach us adults about love, forgiveness, and the practice of approaching the world with a growth mindset. As I see it, we, the adults, imperil the future when we lack the good sense and humility to learn from the compassion, grace, and adaptability that our students show as they learn to appreciate what each person brings to the table.
We often harshly critique the young, particularly teenagers, when they mirror all the vile things that we as older adults have spent years doing to each other. Why do we blame them for following our example instead of our counsel? After 18 years as a boarding school teacher, I have become accustomed to hearing two best friends in their senior year declare how they once used to despise each other as freshmen. I…