Almost one month ago, one young person massacred a high school. In the weeks since, stormy debate has overtaken the media over how to best handle this going forward.
I'm not going to talk about that.
I want to shout from rooftops at all the students I ever taught who questioned me when I told them WORDS ARE POWER. I teach seventh grade. It's an age where humans are at a developmental stage that makes them question everything, even things we know they once knew, like "Why do I have to respect the teacher?" and "What is noun?" and "Why should I be nice to everybody?"
So of course, when I'm jumping around my classroom shouting, "Reading is what the cool kids do! Words are the greatest gift we have!" they're going to call me out.
And good on them.
First, I don't mind explaining. I could talk endlessly about words (and individual letters, for that matter).
Second, let's raise humans who question the way of things. Let's raise them to examine circumstances and information and to STOP and THINK about WHY. To question:
Is there a better way for the greater good?
That is what the world needs now, and if I may be so bold, our survival always has and always will depend on it.
I was thrilled when I heard about the scheduled National School Walkout scheduled for tomorrow, March 14. All this because a wounded mass of teenagers in Parkland, Florida stepped out of the wreckage and used their words. It wasn't enough that five years ago kindergarteners were killed. That for five years, parents who should have taught their children to swim, taken their little son or daughter to Disney World, or read them Harry Potter have lived every day since December of 2012 living with the aching awareness that they were robbed of those opportunities.
The teenagers of Parkland have emerged from their tragedy strong. They have done research. They have found the right things to say, the best words, and the right things to DO to make a change. They took this on the grandest scale they could: NATIONAL. As a country, they said, let us all show each other that we are not going to allow this anymore. As a country, as our nation's students, let us walk out on the current institution and shout from the rooftops that the status quo is NOT OKAY.
More than once in the time from this plan's inception I've been told of "how each individual school is going to handle that." Um, what?
"Our school is just going to take seventeen minutes of silence so as not to disrupt learning."
"Our school will gather in the gym."
"Our school won't be participating."
*chuckle, chuckle* You're joking, right?
Okay. So, hey teenagers. America's youth. Are you out there? Can you hear me? I want you to do me a favor. Google "walkout." Google "taking a stand." You don't need to tell me what you find out. I guarantee that you're smart enough to process it and realize what I'm saying.
You are our future. Don't let the message of Parkland's survivors be muffled by adults and administrations who can't be bothered, or...what? Are afraid? I don't even know.
Teenagers of America: if you believe in Parkland's message, stand with them. Get up out of your chair, walk out of the classroom. Go down the stairs and out the door.
Use your actions. Use your words. THAT IS HOW IT'S DONE.
Any school, any administration, that employs punitive action against students who participate in the walkout is wrong. Stand together in the largest group you can gather.
Stand up. Walk out. Lives have been lost. Change the future.
Mary Pat Bielecki,
teacher for almost 18 years
believer in words
believer in YOU
P.S.-- Can you spot the shooter in this video?
P.P.S.--Sandy Hook Promise