In the rush to raise alarm over Terrible Educational Emergencies, folks need to pay closer attention to exactly who they're hurting.
I'm not talking about teachers right now. Yes, teachers get blamed for anything and everything, and it stinks, and we're paying a regular price for it in the increasing difficulty in recruiting people to do the work.
But the other part of chicken littling about education is the constant declaration that Kids These Days suck. They can't read or write. They aren't ready to hold down a job. And like many other negative trends in education, this has only gotten worse during the pandemic. Now it's not just that Kids These Days can't read and write and math--numerous companies are telling anyone who will listen about the terrible threat of learning loss, and how all of America's children are slowly backsliding, the "days of learning" dribbling out of their ears like meltwater sluicing off a snow-covered roof. They're getting stupider and stupider by the day. They are a lost generation.
Some of the worst moments in my teaching career came in parent-school conferences, sitting in a room with other staff, the student, and the parental units, watching the parents express in not-at-al-subtle ways their low opinion of their child. It is gut-wrenching to see a parent tell their own child everything just short of (and in a couple of memorable instances, not just short of) "I don't know what to do with you. You're lazy and dumb and just a bad person." Those students didn't need pedagogical or instructional interventions nearly as much as they needed to have an adult who actually believed in them.
In the rush to indict the public school system, the teachers, the unions, some people have turned students into collateral damage, forcing them to live in a world of adults who are constantly broadcasting that Kids These Days are awful failures. And right now, as always, they are directing the worst of it at the students who already get the worst of it--Black, brown, poor.
Today Chalkbeat is carrying a piece by teacher Selena Carrion that everyone should read-- "Stop calling this generation 'lost.' It's hurtful--and it's wrong." Carrion's experience allows her to remember how to keep her eye on the ball:All this reminds me not to allow a deficit-oriented “lost generation” narrative to deny them their success. As educators, let’s think about their triumphs and how they are still finding joy and wonder amid chaos.