I recently took the time to read the book Letters to a Young Teacher, and I truly wish I read this as I was entering the teaching profession shortly after graduation. There are so many gems of wisdom and encouragement and hope and inspiration sprinkled throughout this book. This week I’ll be sharing a few of these.
This book addresses the struggles and failings of the public school system, but does not discourage teachers from staying in the system, and working with it to improve. Jonathan makes a strong case for a higher level of educational segregation today than before and during the civil rights movement of decades past. But two points he makes I would like to highlight here. He states: “I think we have an obligation to empower those we teach to understand that this democracy is very much a work in progress and that if they can’t achieve the skills to take an active role as citizens in struggles to bring progress in their grown-up years, the injustices they suffer now will never change.”
I think it is very true that democracy and freedom and equality are very much a work in progress. We are constantly seeking ways to improve, and should never sink to the level of wanting to throw it out or forget it or wipe the slate clean. Let’s take what we have, and work slowly and carefully to improve it. It won’t happen overnight, but it can and will improve.
His call to empower students to take action is a poignant one. Students must recognize the failings and shortcomings of our system, and take responsible action to see that this is improved. Denying a problem exists favors no one. No one.
As Dr Seuss once said: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”