There are many stereotypes surrounding our youth such as: they are lazy, apathetic, disrespectful, and disconnected from what’s happening in their world.
While this may be the case for some, I believe for the majority, the youth of this generation want to make a difference. Most educators would agree that one of our main objectives in the classroom is to develop and provide learning opportunities that empower our students.
Think back to the middle school years. Those years can be very difficult due to the changes happening both physically and emotionally. I see students trying so hard to figure out who they are, where they belong and what their purpose is. I admit there are days I feel our future may not be so bright, then the next day these kids are inspiring me to buck up and be better.
I have never been so energized, proud, inspired and motivated by the actions of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The fact their teenage voices were heard and they inspired the March 24 March for Our Lives across the U.S., speaks volumes to their feeling of empowerment and sense of courage to stand up for righteousness. Trust me, my students were watching. I know there is hope for a brighter future, and the youth of today are going to make it happen!
As we know, it takes a village to raise a child, including the child taking on his or her own responsibility in the growing process.
Children: Don’t be too full of yourselves. Remember that part of being successful is being empathetic, humble, kind and caring. These attributes will allow you to find purpose and discover ways to connect with others. Don’t be a bystander in your life — be an active participant.
Take on every challenging situation and find the opportunity within it. You are more courageous and brave than you think. Excuses only go so far. Be proud of the human you are, be sure to love yourself, and treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t be afraid to dream big and take the necessary actions needed to make it happen! Will you experience failure at times? Yes, but use those as a springboard to growth.
Parents: Please be there for your children. Read to them, support them, listen to them, teach them manners, respect and the importance of acting appropriately in certain settings. Be involved in their lives at home, school and any extracurricular activities.
Help them to discover and expand on their passions in life. Encourage them to reach for the stars and help them understand how to cope with adversity along the way. Be present, be patient, and most importantly love them. You are their role models and they love you probably more than you realize.
Education: Understand our students are more than a test/curriculum. They are human beings who look to educators for the guidance and support in their growth both academically and individually. We must not squander their passion for learning, their creativity, their innovative spirit and the need to find their niche in this world.
We must provide real-world learning opportunities that will lead to a sense of empowerment that they can be our future leaders, doctors, researchers, scientists and authors. We too must work closely with our families, students and our communities in order to support their dreams, goals, and guide them in their journey.
In the end, our youth have ideas, concerns, possible solutions to problems and voices that need to be heard. I truly believe change will occur when our youth continue to lead with such passion, diligence and grace. Maybe the adults in this world should take notice.
LEE ANN RAIKESáis a kid trapped in an adult body, living life out loud, while never giving up hope for peace in the world. She can be reached by emailing email@example.com.