The kids get it. That’s the prevailing thought as I reflect on yet another school year completed. The kids get it. Thank goodness for that.
As a 28-year veteran of the high-school classroom, it’s easy to be cynical. More than once this year, I’ve caught myself acting like your cranky, “get-off-my-lawn” neighbor. And why not? Kids can be short-sighted, self-centered, and immature. They are kids, after all.
But despite the inevitable frustrations that come with teaching high-school students, I remain heartened by today’s kids. They get it. To be honest, it’s the adults we should worry about, considering the fossilized thinking and absolute inanity many of them — leaders and everyday citizens alike — have brought to the growing list of contemporary challenges.
“These are strange times,” wrote Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell earlier this year. “Systematically, President Donald J. Trump has rolled back protections for members of the LGBT community,” including a policy that “essentially limits transgender troops’ involvement in the military. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights has supported funding Christian adoption and foster care agencies that reject LGBT families. Emboldened by federal policy, state legislators around the country are seeking to limit adoption among LGBT families.”
Meanwhile, LBGT kids remain unfazed. They get it.
“A recent Human Rights Campaign study said that 75% of LGBT youths say most of their peers don’t have a problem with their identity. More than three-quarters of LGBT youth — 77% — say they know things will get better.”
As William J. Mann, director of Central Connecticut State University’s LGBT Center, explained, “We have to be open to rethinking things we thought we’d already figured out. These students are saying, ‘That is part of our history; we’ve got a bigger vision.’ These are students who are totally rethinking these ideas.”
Similarly, kids in Connecticut support diversity education, as demonstrated by their spirited support of HB 7082, a bill that combined two originally individual measures that require African-American and Latino/Puerto Rican studies be included in high schools by 2022.
“During public hearings … in front of the Education Committee earlier this year large groups of students came to the state Capitol to urge legislators to back the legislation,” reported CTNewsJunkie’s Jack Kramer.
The kids get it.
What kids especially get is climate change. While many adults still question the human impact on global temperatures — including White House officials who recently barred a State Department agency from testifying that climate change is “possibly catastrophic” — the kids are taking the lead in fighting anthropogenic climate change. To that end, approximately 200 students gathered at the state Capitol as part of the worldwide Youth Climate Strike on March 15.
“Our lawmakers are not doing enough to help us, so we’re taking a stand,” according to Kira Ortoleva, a high-school senior from Milford, who quoted Charlie Chaplin from the 1940 film The Great Dictator: “Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men — machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines, you’re not cattle. You’re people. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful. To make this life a wonderful adventure. Let us use that power and let us fight.”
That’s precisely what the kids are doing because they get it. They even understand the increasingly complex media landscape better than I thought.
When the Poynter Institute presented its media-literacy initiative, “MediaWise,” to more than 5,000 middle- and high-school students in 13 states this spring, the results were encouraging.
“A significant portion of the students we taught already knew how to spot and debunk hoaxes,” wrote Daniel Funke on Poynter’s blog. “Almost no one was fooled by [an] admittedly easy-to-spot fake article, for example. And, when presented with more samples of hoaxes, they already knew to pull out their phones and Google what they were seeing.”
So while 53% of adults say “the news media have the most responsibility to reduce the amount of made-up news and information,” according to a recent Pew survey, kids are already taking the reins as responsible news consumers.
In short, kids get it.
This fact bodes well for the future. Many adults might be stuck in the past, but kids know the future belongs to them. What’s more, they’re acting on that certainty. It’s an uplifting thought in these tumultuous times — one that makes this veteran teacher enthusiastic about coming back to school next year.
Barth Keck is an English teacher and assistant football coach who teaches courses in journalism, media literacy, and AP English Language & Composition at Haddam-Killingworth High School.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.