The Bronx students who dared to claim their rights by starting RESISTANCE and demanding a better education have forced us all to listen to what has become a serious social change movement.
When I received an email yesterday informing me that a group of young people had now taken up the fight, two things ran through my mind : this movement will be highly successful and we have no idea what we've unleashed (the power and enthusiasm and unyielding energy that is the exclusive property of youth).
Remember that many movements for serious social change started with young people at the core.
There will be those who want to argue with me and state facts, opinions and discrepancies. Those of us who have memories of eight track players, three televison stations and (gasp) life before the internet have done plenty in keeping the status quo (life, economic meltdowns and global warfare) debilitating for most of our citizens.
As an older generation member, my job is to support and offer guidance when and if it is asked for.
I am part of the 99% who was led to believe that if we worked hard and did the right thing we could at least aspire to the 1%. No one ever discussed if this was the best use of our time not to mention what this would cost the world and ourselves in terms of social upheaval.
The young students in the Bronx are challenging us all to look at a very misguided and upsetting way of dealing with pedagological endeavors that train young people to do nothing but passively consume. This current change is as powerful as it is scary.
The people who formed and maintain RESISTANCE are now forcing us to do the unthinkable: challenge our values. While I am thrilled about all ten of the demands (by members of RESISTANCE)for educational change that would fundamentally change The Bronx, Nyc and the world, three of the demands stand out and rock me to the core.
1. The Demand for Quality Instruction
2. Smaller Class size with a Teacher/Student ratio of 15:1
3. An overhaul of the Community Board that consists of at least five student representatives
Perfectly reasonable demands and expectations. It is my understanding that Quality Education is removing the "one-size-fits-all" business and determining what type of instruction each student requires. Instructing from a "real world" experience ensures that each student has the skills to think and create their lives regardless of the amount of education they pursue.
A fifteen to one teacher/student ratio provides for greater personal interaction and less behavioral problems. When I taught, most of the behavioral issues were sorted out by provididng direct interaction/instruction and interruption of "acting out" and attention seeking shenanigans. Managing fifteen student behaviors is different than even twenty or god forbid thirty .
Finally, the students want to represent themselves (five strong) on the school board. This is the most powerful entity suggested. By mandating that there be a rep from the student body, young people learn ownership of their education and pride in how their schools are run. It completely does away with what I refer to as "passive education".
It puts power in their hands and decision making practices in their minds.
It teaches collaboration, standing up for one's beliefs and working with and using difference to problem solve and create change.