I often worry about the world that my four-year-old daughter will encounter in her adulthood. Luckily, I have a job that eases my mind. I have the privilege of teaching high school in a small community in the foothills of North Carolina. This career has given me my strongest belief. I believe with every ounce of my being that my students will save us.
My students not only want, but demand, environmental awareness. Students expect that we recycle and some will even take the recycling out of our rooms for us. Some of my Seniors are now prepared to vote based on environmental issues alone. Issues relating to fuel efficiency, global warming, and sustainable energy have moved out of the science classroom and into their daily conversations. Eighteen year olds are watching movies about climate change for fun. My viewing at eighteen was limited to movies with nudity. The profound social change that will be required to solve the climate change problem is already occurring.
My students no longer believe that one political party is affiliated with religion. I have Christian students who are actually going to vote for both political parties. They are voting based on broader issues than the obvious wedge issues. Issues of equity, peace, and love are as important as gay marriage. My students are moving the political dialogue from the extremes to the middle. Their politics are shaped by their personal faiths rather than the political party platforms.
My students are more tolerant of other people’s beliefs and differences than any group in our history. Just 40 years after the Little Rock Nine, and 30 years since North Carolina repealed the law against interracial marriages, couples of all races and socio-economic groups are holding hands in our halls. Racial and social barriers to dating simply do not exist for the majority of my students. The people in our community who seem to be most disturbed about interracial couples in our school are the adults. The barriers of race and class are quickly fading away.
Will my students be without problems as the reach governing age? Of course not. They will have struggles that we cannot even foresee. But, will they solve some the greatest problems that we face now? I believe that they will. They will save the world.
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