This blog is about voice. It’s about the lost voices of kids that were washed ashore during the D-Day invasion, young soldiers who took a stand for our country and then were bloodied to death. Boat after boat. Yes, we won the war, but the causalities were enormous. On both sides. I’ve walked those Normandy beaches with my husband and visited the American cemetery and the German cemetery; I was awed by the silence.
This blog’s also about the voices of youth who attend urban schools minutes away from downtown, students who consider they’ve scored if they live beyond their teens. Students who walk right up the middle of streets so that they can duck competing bullets coming from gang warfare. If you haven’t listened to WBEZ’s award winning programs on Harper High School, it’s time.* Wake up Chicago, wake up civil servants, we have a serious problem here. Those kids want to learn and their teachers are trying—against all odds—to make them to feel safe.
To make schools safe, we need to take a serious stand on guns. They are too easy to get. The Second Amendment did not envision regular shootings in schools. Just today, we all awakened to another one in Seattle. This time the killer didn’t go to the school in question, but like Sandy Hook, NIU, and all of the other terrible shootings, he got his hands on a gun and bloodied the lives of others.
Gifted Expert Carol Ann Tomlinson has done a lot of research –including research on brain-based learning--on what kids need to develop a growth mindset, an open mind and willingness to learn. No surprise here—a significant part of that is providing students with a safe physical environment. Sousa and Tomlinson, Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom.
Two days ago, I sat at my niece’s middle school graduation in a suburb north of Chicago. The student speaker thoughtfully discussed how he evolved in middle school; he learned how to find his inner voice. This young man felt safe and secure in his school community. He quoted poet Shel Silverstein as he reminded his peers of the power of their inner voices:
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long
I feel that this is right for me
I know that this is wrong…
This is what I know for sure. School shootings are wrong. It’s too easy for kids to get guns. We are silencing our youth.
Next year’s goal for educators: create safe—physically and emotionally-- schools so students can express their inner voices and show their promise.
**for those of you who are looking for good curriculum on D-Day for next year, feel free to contact me.