I try not to correct people on the internet.
Besides the fact that it would be a full-time job for all eternity, there really isn’t a plus side to it. Most people don’t want to be told that they are wrong, and even more will ignore the facts you present regardless of their accuracy anyway.
Darn facts, always getting in the way.
So it’s usually an exercise in frustration that I try to avoid. Except when it involves kids. Then I’m all in lol.
This week, some of the pushback against the worldwide climate protests came in the form of disinformation. The one that showed up on my facebook timeline was a garbage-filled photo, supposedly from a protest, with the caption: “Aftermath of ‘Climate Strike’ yesterday. Yes, listen to the kids, they will guide our planet, I guess they haven’t learnt the basics yet.”
(My first response is always to correct grammar and punctuation, but I resist that temptation too.)
Except the photo wasn’t from a climate protest.
It was from a 420 marijuana gathering in London last April. Not from this week. Not from this country. And not related to kids or climate.
It was a pretty easy thing to fact-check, so I posted the correction as a comment. With citations. Except instead of acknowledging that the meme was wrong, the poster (and other comments) doubled-down on the criticism of kids (and teachers) in the process.
The one that sticks with me is one that we often hear in the comment section of posts: that kids in school are being told WHAT to think rather than HOW to think.
Well, I knew better than to get sucked into that debate. But what I’d love is for people to come into schools more often. Come into a classroom. Talk to kids.
“Yes, listen to them.”
Because although there are aspects like ‘learning the basics’ that will always be a part of education, from a very young age our students are also thinking.
Soooooo many questions! If you work with children and teens, you’ll know that they hold pretty strong beliefs of their own. And they are very quick to question things that don’t align with those beliefs. Cognitive dissonance is a big part of learning.
Or like the quote I came across this week: ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable, because that’s how you grow.’ That feeling in the pit of your stomach doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve learned something but it’s a step towards it, albeit an uncomfortable one.
In a similar vein, an article I read tonight resonated with me. “In a nutshell, the concept of desirable difficulties embodies the adage: no pain, no gain. Just like how taking the stairs is better for our health than taking the escalator, making learning more challenging can lead to better retention…As a rule of thumb, if students aren’t struggling a bit - that is, if their performance isn’t somewhat hindered - they’re probably not engaged with the material in ways that will lead to meaningful, long-term comprehension and understanding.” (Nick Soderstrom)
Kids are up to the challenge. They seek it out. And no matter your personal views on protests or climate change or kids protesting climate change, it’s apparent these youth have questions.
Lots of tough questions.
And they are definitely engaged.
I can’t definitively say what the motivations and incentives were for all 4 million people who took part in the Youth Climate Strike, but I can guess it had less to do with WHAT people have told them about the issue, and more to do with WHY it’s important to them as youth, and HOW they hope to effect change in their lifetimes.
As lifelong learners ourselves, there are a lot of lessons here to learn…from our kids.
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