March 24, 2018

March 25, 2018

I had fully planned to drag my kids out to march yesterday in the cold Minnesota temps.  Between the school musical, History Day, basketball practice and a funeral, that didn’t happen.  But much of what I saw yesterday gave me hope for the future…

At 8:15am I walked up to Roosevelt High School, where the district wide Minneapolis Public Schools History Day competition was held.   A woman just ahead of me was carrying six display boards, not a small load.  As I held the door for her I commented that she must be a teacher if she was carting that many projects.  Yes, she confirmed.  Her kids were taking the bus and it was windy.  She wanted them to only focus on getting there on time, not keeping their hard work safe on the journey.  I can tell you from my own three kids’ history day experiences, it was that teacher who has kept those kids on track for the last 3 months.

History Day allows for many media forms: exhibit boards, documentaries, websites, performances, papers – the gamut.  This year’s theme is Conflict and Compromise.  I cannot think of a more perfect frame for historical events, because that is how change happens.

One middle school student in particular was eager to make sure I knew the experience of gays and lesbians during the holocaust.  She wasn’t trying to impress we.  She was determined to educate me.

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So many stories we know of just a little bit.  So many stories I’ve never heard.  Did you know about The Love Canal.  I didn’t.  Look at all these projects…

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My kids have spent the last many weeks preparing for their school musical, benefitting from hours of time from generous artists, teachers, parents and fellow classmates, learning to tell a powerful story of self-acceptance and decency through song and humor. 

This is what good education looks like.  Giving students the tools to know who we are, how we got here, and how we can be better.  In a world of social media and clickbait, teachers inspiring kids to dig deep into the stories of our ugliest times and greatest triumphs – that is education.

So when those students take to the streets to fight for a safe education environment, what does it say that the NRA mocks them as only being influenced by Hollywood and wealthy snowflake liberals? These kids didn’t get their critical thinking from Hollywood.  Hollywood may give them empathy through the power of story, but Hollywood also makes a lot of money through the glorification of violence.  How can the NRA mock such a source of wealth not unlike their own? Who of the NRA is afraid for their own life in the course of their day to day routine?  How can they be so desensitized to this climate, and their place in it?

No, these kids were taught critical thinking by the kind of teacher that gets up at 6am on a cold Saturday and lovingly hauls her students’ projects so their hard work can be rewarded – so they can have conversations about our history and the lessons we must learn, so they can enjoy the fruits of their passion for storytelling alongside their vast intellectual capability.

I reposted this from someone else on Instagram today, knowing my own middle school aged kids would see it.  When I became a parent, I never fathomed such an exchange with my children.  I both applaud its wit and ache for its reality.  How is gun control even a debate?

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Look at the diverse groups fighting for change.  What does it say that the sole opposition is the NRA and the GOP, who have a financial interest in their resistance?  Kids are assessing our history, and driving a new narrative.  We need to listen and act.  It is not only the kids fighting for change, but it is they who have the most to lose or gain here.

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