Monday, January 2, 2012

The Children

Sometimes as grown-ups we need to be reminded that the stories we tell are often the first points of creative contact children have. With that in mind it behooves us to carefully consider what stories we're choosing to tell. While as adults we understand that life is not fair nor does it consistently reward the deserving, children do not. The very precious, much too short-lived innocence of children pre-disposes them to a blind optimism; an optimism we have the responsibility to help them cultivate throughout their lives.

I was inspired to write this post after seeing the documentary Waiting For Superman. As the film was ending and I was wiping the tears from my eyes I couldn't help but feel a sense of utter injustice. I think perhaps I felt what a child must feel when that blind optimism is assaulted. My rage steadily grew as I watched a grid-locked, bureaucratic, lobbyist, educational system destroy the futures of the children they (and we) have been given the privilege of ushering into living. The thing that most angered me was how selfish the adults were. Children don't have the ability to fight for themselves and the adults are actually taking advantage of that. One of the most appalling things in the film is the story of former Washington, D.C. Chancellor of Public Schools, Michelle Rhee's attempt to end the disease of tenure. She gave teachers the opportunity to vote on ending tenure. In exchange a new system of merit raises would be employed making it possible for teachers to earn nearly double what they were currently earning. The teacher's unions were so threatened by this that on the day of the vote an auditorium full of teachers sat silent, hands folded, refusing to vote.

Documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who directed and co-wrote the film, has chosen well. He has chosen to defend those who are defenseless. He has chosen to tell a story that fully takes into account who we really tell these stories for. We tell stories because it makes the legacy of a generation richer. It hopefully encourages future generations to invest in the things that make the human race great - and work to abolish those things that are a part of our lesser selves.

I implore you to see this film. It will move you. And while it deeply affected me with regard to education, the lasting impression with which I was left was what my own responsibility to posterity was. It was to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. To teach children to realistically embrace the unfairness with which life deals out it's crowns and corpses. But to hope against all hope that indeed there is hope.

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