February 14th, 2020
Thinking for Ourselves
Lives That Matter
Many people hoped Governor Gretchen Whitmer would bring a more thoughtful, responsible approach to the education crisis. But her recent comments on the controversial third grade reading law and the future of public schools demonstrate a lack of serious understanding of what is happening to our children.
In her State of the State address, the Governor framed her concerns for our children in the smallest, most dangerous terms. Rather than beginning with the question of how are they?, or what is affecting their lives and deepest aspirations?, she linked education to jobs. She said, “Protecting our workforce is one step, preparing our workforce is another. And that starts with our kids. Michigan ranks in the bottom 10 states for overall literacy. We’re doing something about that, too.”
Her goal for education was clear, “Ensuring that every child gets the skills to graduate and succeed in our workforce.” She explained that the workforce she wants to encourage will be with “good paying jobs–jobs in construction, IT, and advanced manufacturing. But they demand specialized skills training. Meeting our goal and filling these jobs depends on more than just passing a bill. It depends on our young people.”
Most of our young people are painfully aware of how inadequate this vision is for their lives. They know in their bones that the world is in crisis, our communities in chaos. Across our weary globe they are leading the rest of us into actions, large and small, to challenge the way things are, in a desperate effort to protect human life and the planet on which we depend.
In a recent article on the climate crisis, journalist Rebecca Solnit talked about the need for a deeper ethical understanding of our place in the world. She asks us to think about how this crisis demands more of us than ever before. She says,
“We must expand our imaginations and act on that bigger understanding of our place in the world and our impact on the future. That means making radical changes, like our homes and transit being powered by renewables, our government not plotting more extractivism. It means leaving fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong. We need to remind ourselves why these changes are necessary: that the earth is finite, that actions have consequences, that they go beyond the horizon of what we can see and hear, in time and space, that those who come after us have rights we can’t just annihilate. We must make sweeping changes by the end of the coming decade, and we must stick to them afterward by remembering why they matter.”
In contrast, our governor offers the opportunity to become plumbers, electricians, and IT experts. Hopefully, we will have a world where we will need plumbers, electricians, and IT people, along with artists, bakers, chemists, carpenters, dentists, farmers, music makers and zoologists. But going to school to get a job, no matter how “well paying” is a small vision, sure to diminish any child.
Those of us who have worked closely with children and seen them develop into thoughtful, warm, expansive, creative, and caring adults know it was because they saw themselves capable of developing lives that make a difference in the world. They felt loved and cared for, seen and encouraged. They learned about their past, respected who they were, and felt supported in finding their ways to who they hoped to become.
Today, our children are killing themselves. Recently Bridge Magazine wrote that “Michigan adolescents and teens are committing suicide at nearly double the rate of just over a decade ago.” This surge in suicide is among the highest in the nation.
Every day as children walk through metal detectors to enter crumbling, crowded schools, where they are often ignored or seen as a problem to be controlled, their lives made smaller and smaller.
Schools need to change, to become part of the radical reimagining of how we engage our children, and the rest of us, in creating ways of living that will sustain us, enrich the fullness of our lives, regenerate our communities, and protect our earth. This is no time for small, worn ways of thinking. Now, more than ever, we need education that enables us to create a new, life affirming world.
FREE DanceAbility Workshop
Let’s energize our hope, joy and power on Saturday February 15th by dancing together! This is likely our last “drop-in” workshop till May, so come check dance improvisation for everyone…however you move/sense…whether or not you’re a trained dancer…
…And then you can sign up for our March/April class series if you want! See class series info/registration link at the bottom of this e-mail.
For our Sat Feb 15th workshop:
Doors open at Light Box at 11am and the workshop is from 11:30 to 1:30. IT’S FREE! (Donations appreciated but never obligated.)
Click HERE for location details, to request accommodations by Monday, and to let us know you’re coming. We’ll again have an emotional support person from Healing By Choice present to provide extra emotional support to anyone who might be struggling with emotions like grief, anger, anxiety, or overwhelming joy because of gaining access to DANCE.
And click here for more info and to register for the March/April class series!