I read something this morning which kicked me in the gut - “What #BlackLivesMatter Means To Me (Spoiler Alert: I’m Not Black)” by Isa Adney on HuffingtonPost.com. It’s not short, but it’s well worth a complete read.
I love my students and value their quirks and individuality (mostly). I’m appalled at our efforts to run them through the standardization machine so we can label and letter their worth. I want the freedom to teach them whatever I believe will prove useful or engaging, and to help them learn how to pursue and learn on their own whatever stirs their passions. But as we celebrate the value of diversity, and specialness, and glowing red noses, let’s keep in mind that equally important are the essential skills and mindsets that they’ll need no matter what their individual gifting or choices.
There’s a letter making the rounds on social media apparently written by a high school student to her principal protesting the school’s dress code. The gist of it is that girls are busted for dress code far more than boys, it’s not the girl’s responsibility to control boys’ thoughts and lusts, dress codes create a ‘rape culture’, and basically demanding – as a blow for female equity – that girls should be able to dress as they damn well please at school or anywhere else.
I have nothing against this young lady or her stand, and appreciate anyone able to make their case (in writing, no less!) and support it with whatever reasoning they have on hand. I don’t buy her argument, but that’s OK, too.
Freedom is a terrifying thing. There’s great comfort in structure – even confinement. I’ve seen this dramatically demonstrated in recent weeks as I’ve watched students navigate my decision to give them greater leeway in what they research, how they demonstrate it, and how they wish to be assessed. Some have flourished with the sudden reduction in boundaries; many have been hindered by too much freedom with too little scaffolding, given too suddenly.
And that’s the academic version – the relatively easy one to fathom, and to fix. Trickier are historical, social-political happenings. You know – the “real world” stuff.