When Carolyn Ziv from Harpo Studios called me in October of 2004, she asked me why I loved teaching despite the low pay and poor conditions. She asked what I would like America to know about what teachers and students deal with every day. I told her that I wanted America to know that for every crime committed, a child is involved. Every meth lab, murder, molestation, robbery, a child either witnessed it, was a victim, or is worried because a family member is in jail because of it. I was totally surprised when this turned out to be The Favorite Things Show!
My intention was to bring to light the troubling situation in education today. I was hoping if we brought these issues into the public forum, we might stand in solidarity to find some solutions. Just as Oprah built a school in Africa to combat poverty and ignorance, there is a poverty and ignorance in our culture which is much more sinister. I want to call attention to this poverty; to help children heal and grow up straight and proud. It is unwise to wait until they are adults, having spent the major part of their energy in their adult lives trying to “heal their childhood issues”. I work with children every day, and they are receptive to healing now. They are also receptive to the negative and violent messages many of them receive daily. Why do they have to wait to get help?
If a child had a broken leg, we would be appalled if they didn’t receive medical attention. It is considered neglect. That leg may never run again, may never be quite straight, or may flare up in bad weather. But so many of our children have broken hearts and minds. As a culture, we ignore or deny emotional and mental disturbance and illness in our children. We don’t have systems in place to help these kids. We will never be able to educate our children until these issues are openly and honestly addressed. The programs in place now barely scratch the surface.
I believe as Dr. Lillian Katz once said, that it is not only right to help with other people’s children, but it is also imperative. It might be that child who administers your medication or mugs you in the park. It might be the one who discovers a cure for cancer.
I believe that this generation is the angriest yet. All of this angry energy needs to be addressed and channeled.
I am not claiming to have answers, but I have some ideas. I know one thing for sure. Together we are all smarter than any one person.
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