Just take a look around you,
What do you see?
Kids with feelings,
Like you and me.
Understand him, he’ll understand you;
For you are him, and he is you.
So, the half term twitter spat has revealed itself and its a corker… Cue angry adults, outraged politicians, venomous retorts and no one really listening to anyone.
It would seem that the kids are revolting.
On Friday the 15th of February thousands of children walked out of their schools to protest against climate change inaction. Inspired by 16 year old Greta Thunberg there is clearly a movement growing and this has angered many in politics and education. How dare they? What if they strike about other stuff? They are just kids…
Chaos, Anarchy and collapse! The end of days…
Oh, wait, isn’t that why they are striking? To challenge the pace of action to ensure there is a future worth living for? Isn’t this about a generations inheritance and therefore surely they have a right to make their voices heard very loud and very clear?
But the political left and right are once again at odds… gurning tweets like machine gun fire.
How dare they? They are children… They have no rights! They are just puppets, middle class privilege gone rogue, snowflake generation, misinformed idiots, climate change will not destroy the world… duh!
This hasn’t surprised me. It’s twitter. But, this is unprecedented in my time in education. Apart from the odd student sit in its not something I have seen happen much in my 24 years in education. Therefore, very naively, I thought being a teacher by its very nature would support students in taking responsibility and owning a problem which will have a bigger impact on them than most of us adults.
One of the core objectives of a strong education system must be to develop moral and social responsibility and climate change ticks both those boxes.
I am going to quote Nick Gibb on the purpose of education, so as not to seem bias in my source material here:
‘Education is the engine of our economy, it is the foundation of our culture, and it’s an essential preparation for adult life. Delivering on our commitment to social justice requires us to place these 3 objectives at the heart of our education system.’
For Nick, this is achieved via great phonics, literacy and maths teaching… I agree, educational standards are a bedrock for reducing inequality but there’s more to it than this. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have 12 years to ‘really’ act… How many people are really optimistic that our political leaders have this covered? Therefore, a gaggle of angry youth taking a day off school is the least of our worries. And yet, like all great movements – they are getting our attention. Better still, we are becoming VERY aware that when they are in power – they will be holding to account each and every person who ‘could’ to do something now. There will be no hiding. As the full catastrophe plays out… there will be judgements. Only the very foolish could think this will be a blot and just go away. I can see politicians defending their position with – ‘Well, literacy levels really improved’ as London is under 6 feet of water – not quite swaying the outraged judicial review. What is an education when climate change widens the gap between the richest and poorest destroying economies, communities and lives… at an unprecedented level? Suddenly a day off school, some witty banners and a few hard left chants pale into insignificance.
Now, I know much of the criticism for U.K. students striking was, ‘Well, this government has done a lot to address climate change”. But this was not a U.K strike. This was much larger than that. This was about having a cause worth skiving off of school for, worth shouting about and worth causing debate and disruption over. If it is going to have a real impact the scary thing is – this will not be enough. I’m quite sure that the next time our political masters sit down with a multi national money machine they wont even think about the students protests. Therefore, I agree with those worried about education becoming really disrupted. Wasn’t that the point of the strike though?
Having a cause this important will mean struggle and it is only through coming together that we really gather a voice. Not just young citizens but adults as well. I believe that those in education need to understand their role in advocacy for children and young people. When we become teachers is that not one of our principle roles? Is that not our moral responsibility?
I saw the argument, “But, would you support a right wing student protest?”. No? Of course I wouldn’t. Only a right wing teacher probably would… I do support our students in taking this action though. I do not do that lightly. As a primary head I did not have students taking the day off. If I had, I would have met with them. I would have questioned their reasons. I would have made them understand that striking action is only effective if there are sanctions and I would have agreed those sanctions with my students. I would have also told them how proud they made me feel as their head teacher.
100 lines… I must be responsible for my actions.