Current students have not known a day where they weren’t immersed in the media stream. They have grown up with always having the internet, always having their brains inculcated with personalized versions of propaganda showing them how to be a contributing member of society. Students have always been solicited to follow one way or another, told that one thing was better than the other, and told not to listen to the others. Is it any wonder that the young are confused? That they don’t know where to turn at times for advice without fearing that it will be another dead end? that the source of information d’jour doesn’t really tell them what they want to know? That it won’t simply tell them who they are in the world and what they need to do? How can we tell them that what we want from them is independence to go beyond what we can think of to do, but independence only to the point that it can be controlled or do no harm to the body human. It is from their independence that new ideas and energy are created to feed the body human. It must be frightening to them as every faction of the body human wants their energy to grow. The cacophony of attention-getting voices is deafening.
We had it, too, the constant solicitation, but we were able to find moments of quiet without unplugging because we weren’t that plugged in to begin with. As adults, we are becoming aware of all the noise, but it was not that bad when the older of us were growing up. There were clear standard bearers that we knew to listen to for guidance. Not like now, where a new voice comes speeding in from every which way and in directions from which we never heard or thought of before. Another difference between the young now and us before is that in the before there were longer periods of stasis it seems. It seems. … Now, is that because I am older? That I absorbed enough new when I was younger that the current changes appear as ripples—small tremors that foreshadow a bigger change, or am I one of those crazies that portends a falling sky? That is the question, and that’s what we really teach as teachers, isn’t it? How to tell the best decisions makers from the others? How to find the ones that can best steer this human boat that we are in, careening past sun through galaxy, universe? We search for ones that can see the bigger picture that we are our own worst enemies: growing population, expanding toxic hazards that will result in a dieback? We are searching for those that can lead and have the energy to do so. We search for the few who will listen to us for the glimpses of the road ahead that we see, and one thing that we can see is that we need good leaders. A question may arise as to why don’t we lead? We do, but under the cover of guiding, of establishing our brand as a trusted source by the establishment. That is where our power lies.
There is an old saw about those who can’t, teach. That is not true. Teaching is just what we do better than anything else. As teachers, we can word, phrase, expand ideas excellently. We know how to teach to reach an audience, convincing students to get on board the boat, not to be left behind or fall over the side. We are nurturers, fanning ideas to flame in new energy, all for the good of the body human. Great ideas without the ability to gain support from others, however, die. So we teach our students how to reach and convince an audience to participate in creation of an idea, to gather the forces of the body human to grow healthier together rather than as a cancer that overtakes what has worked before.
We wonder how to reach our students through the noise of all the distractions (anything thing that doesn’t agree with us or our accepted model of the establishment) and rely on the old models of education hammered out, tested, and held on to by staid citizens of our profession. After all, we have educated some of the great minds in history. The conservative methods have been well vetted. Why is there any need for change?
In truth, I guess what I am advocating is a change. Not a change in the established base of what we know but in how we communicate it to our students. Things are changing so rapidly that I feel the air being sucked up in a vortex. It is not really a scary vortex unless one has invested too much energy in the past and doesn’t want to expend energy in what might be considered a fad. However, our salvation lies in our youth. Hopefully, the social, emotional investment that they are participating in will be the foundation for their moving forward. Moving forward, not by the biggest getting the most, but, perhaps, as an amortized analysis, moderating extremes to a livable balance. The social connections being forged by them are on a far greater sphere of like being able to find like than has ever existed before. With the connections being forged, there is the possibility of new forms as well as ideas being created because of the greater human mind is being connected. What we need to teach is to do the body human no harm. In this, I find hope.