Over at the Carnival of Education, hosted by The Science Goddess, Coach Brown had some well written remarks regarding the tragedy in New Orleans
. He writes:
"This could be a defining generation, one that faces the challenges head on and deals with them using courage, strength, and will. Or it could be another cynical generation, full of spite and anger at the government, the world, and each other. In the end, we can affect this decision. This is what we were hired to do."
As my students walked into class today, slightly intimidated by their new school--they are freshmen,--it never fully occurred to me just what they are up against. You see, at 28 years old, these tragedies, Columbine, 9/11, war, and natural devastation, shape me as well. They are a part of my world view, and I first have to shape them into an understanding before I can even affect an understanding for them.
I suppose that this is the great difficulty we have as teachers. How do we first make sense of the world around us and then impart our experience to our students. Yes, we are asked to make a difference; and in spite of the mounting standards and No Child Left Behind, we still must teach the youth of our country how to be citizens in this world. There is no rubric for that.
It would be a great shame if the only lesson our students learn from this catastrophic event was that there is always someone to blame other than oneself. If they are even watching the news, our students hear the mayor point fingers at everyone but himself. The governor points a finger at someone else. The federal government points a finger at someone else. Why can't someone, anyone in this mixed up world, just say, "I didn't do it exactly right." Why can't our news agencies focus on the various relief efforts, the astounding show of human compassion on fellow human beings? Instead, we are impressing this next generation with the cynicism we hope to God, or whatever it is you hope to, they do not develop.
Coach Brown is right. In the end, the final analysis, it can be us, the teachers who should stop adding to the chaos with our own rhetoric, who can point out the great show of mercy--which ultimately should be the lesson learned.