How encouraging as we think, in particular, about the amazing voices of high school students that are participating in DREAM Act struggles and more recently, gun policy involving youth activists from Florida in the wake of the tragic killings of 17 fellow students there. Despite these difficult and horrific circumstances, this is assuring that the next generation will help to get us back on track in a world that otherwise seems to be spinning out of control.
February 21, 2018
Each year that I teach the book "1984" I turn my classroom into a totalitarian regime under the guise of the "common good."I run a simulation in which I become a dictator. I tell my students that in order to battle "Senioritis," the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has "been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success." I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is "Senioritis."
I’ve done this experiment numerous times, and each year I have similar results. This year, however, was different.This year, a handful of students did fall in line as always. The majority of students, however, rebelled.
|Photo by Diana Leygerman, used with permission.|
The president of the Student Government Association, whom I don’t even teach, wrote an email demanding an end to this "program." He wrote that this program is "simply fascism at its worst. Statements such as these are the base of a dictatorship rule, this school, as well as this country cannot and will not fall prey to these totalitarian behaviors."I did everything in my power to fight their rebellion.
I "bribed" the president of the SGA. I "forced" him to publicly "resign." And, yet, the students did not back down. They fought even harder. They were more vigilant. They became more organized. They found a new leader. They were more than ready to fight. They knew they would win in numbers.
I ended the experiment two days earlier than I had planned because their rebellion was so strong and overwhelming. For the first time since I’ve done this experiment, the students "won."
What I learned is this: Teenagers will be the ones to save us.Just like Emma Gonzalez, the teen activist from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, my students did not back down nor conform. They fought for their rights. They won.
Adults can learn a lot from the teens of this generations. Adults are complacent, jaded, and disparaged. Teenagers are ignited, spirited, and take no prisoners. Do not squander their fight. They really are our future. Do not call them entitled. That entitlement is their drive and their passion. Do not get in their way. They will crush you.
Foster their rebellion. They are our best allies.
This story originally appeared on Medium.