Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Kids Are Alright

It's been really quiet around the Panopticon of late.  I've been terribly busy with a new course that is kicking my butt.  I just found out I'm teaching AP US next year and I needed to put together a new summer reading and find a textbook.  We were hiring.  I'm trying to make sure every senior gives their senior speech before they go on senior projects (more on that in a second).  My wife's business is crazy.  I had another ER visit for an allergic reaction.  My spouse's business is going gang-busters but that means I'm doing extra dad duty, and there's been a lot of that.   

And so I have a lot of half-formed posts all of which seem out of date and irrelevant or just crappy when I get back to them.  It's all been a bit much. 

If it seems like I am down right now,  I'm not.  Just busy and exhausted and lacking some confidence.  So on Friday, I swung by the auditorium and cleared the stage from the orchestra set up so I could put the screen down to show a video in assembly, taught a class, raced backed to the auditorium, hooked up the video, set up the mic for the senior speeches, figured out who was actually there to give them and tried to take attendance of my junior advisees. 

And then I listened to the speech.  I had approved the speech weeks earlier, but the student giving it was sick on her assigned day.  Now the timing seemed perfect.  It was national day of silence and, she came out as bi- pansexual as part of the speech.  But that was not the moving part, the part that spoke to me.  Rather, it was the part about not listening to the critic in your head, the one that said "don't do that paper topic, it's not good enough; ditch that idea for the video, you won't be able to pull it off; you can't; you can't, so don't."  I've been hearing that voice a lot in the last few weeks.  So tonight, I'm blogging. 

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There's a facebook meme going around that I hate.  It's the one that talks about how great it was to grow up in the 50s, 60s and 70s and compares it to stereotypes about childhood and young adulthood today.  It's a giant "get off my lawn!" with a helping of "make America great again" on the side.  I actually took the time to debunk it on somebody's fb page I found it so irritating.  And the reason I found it so irritating is that kids today have a raw deal.  They play outside less because their parents are working more for less pay and they have wayyyyy more homework at a much younger age than we ever did.   For those that want to go college, it seems unaffordable and the choices of careers that could actually support them seem to shrink daily.  Are they all on meds?  A lot are, but a lot fewer are self-medicating with drugs, nicotine, or alcohol.  They are making better choices about sex, and like the student I heard speak on Friday, they lie to themselves and each other far less than we ever did.  And they take action.

Today my daughter attended the second annual Girls Climate Change Summit conceived and organized by a student who is a junior at her school.  It featured expert speakers  (Jane Goodall Skyped in!) and encouraged the attendees to act in large ways and small to prevent climate change.  More importantly it encouraged them to brainstorm their own solutions.  My daughter is in seventh grade.  She's already written two successful grants, conceived and run a pop-up restaurant that actually made money, plays steel drums, runs cross country and plays lacrosse, takes a drama class, and is teaching herself to code.  She's not atypical of a lot of kids today, even if she has exceptional opportunities.  The stakes for her and them are high and they know it.  A mistake that would have gotten me suspended could get a kid today arrested or killed.     But they're not giving up.  They keep trying to make the world better.  You know what, the kids are alright.

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