What’s on that post-it note?

In the corner of the sixth grade classroom, there was a chart with twenty or thirty hand written post-it notes attached. Each represented a student’s recommendation for their non-fiction essay. 
 
Approximately half were about global warming, several more about hurricanes.  A few would write about inequality or racism. By my estimate at least 80% of the suggested topics were about large societal problems.
 
My initial thought was how conscientious and social minded these students must be – which was admirable. 
 
My second thought was they are eleven years old. What does it say about previous generations that when given the option to write about anything, these children focused their efforts on problems that quite frankly – we should not have passed on to them.
 
Theirs should be an age of wonder – where the whole world is their oyster to explore and learn about.  So much to be fascinated by, curiosities to be followed, passions to be pursued.
 
Recently I heard someone say, “When the only thing you see are problems, that is all there is.”
 
A child who was born around the time of September 11th is now in college or the work force. The children who were killed at Sandy Hook, would now be entering 8th grade with their classmates.  These sixth graders have lived through the great recession, lock down drills,  one natural disaster after another and the most toxic political climate in recent memory.
 
But they also have grown in leaps and bounds,  learned awesome things about nature, science and life.  They’ve experienced joy and play and music and wonder after wonder after wonder.
 
At some point we want our children to be aware of the issues that will impact their future, but I would hope that childhood is not the time of their lives when they should be focusing much of their mental energy on them.
 
In the middle of the chart was one post-it note that simply read, “the deepest part of the ocean.”  Smiling, I thought about how much I would like to read that essay. Believing that it is that kind of mind that grows up better equipped to face whatever challenges we unfortunately leave behind.

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