There is no greater mandate in education than guiding our children to act as responsible citizens engaged in their community, nation, and the world around them.
Most American public schools do not do this work. They are not built to do it. They are not scheduled or staffed to do it.
Be that as it may, many teachers practice an active citizenship everyday.They work hard to make themselves more “responsible citizens engaged in their community, nation, and the world around them,” including their schools and districts. They advocate for kids. They advocate fort learning. They advocate for progress, transformation, and change.
I am most interested in saving this part of our shared work. I am most interested in preserving our roles as an active adult citizens in the lives of our students.
I don’t think a contract, standard, assessment, or evaluation can make us citizens. I believe we decide to become citizens when we choose to learn about the world and help others in it.
I want to be part of a profession of citizens. I recognize that our school system doesn’t ask, contract, or pay us to be citizens. Maybe it shouldn’t; in fact, it can’t. However, our school system and department of education should at least give us teachers and students enough room to exercise our citizenship. We should be allowed to pursue inquiry-driven learning, and we should be responsible enough to use that learning to help others in all kinds of ways. We should be trusted – and we should trust our students – to take an interest in saving the world.
As our schools stand now, we are asked instead to recreate our faltering American society and speed its demise, as well as the demise of our local communities. How many of us are told to use a product in the classroom? How many of us are invited to leave campus with our students to take part in a service project as past of the school day?
How many of us acknowledge our fears and take the risks of citizenship regardless of what we’re told to do by a system built to deny teachers and students their individuality and agency?
I blog in solidarity with all the teachers, students, parents, and stakeholders who work to realize schools of citizens, rather than schools of scores. I blog in solidarity with learners who care deeply for other learners. I blog in solidarity with the problem-solvers who stand against the perpetrators and perpetuators of the status quo. I blog in solidarity with all of us acknowledging our fears and acting in spite of them. I hope I blog in solidarity with you.