Why Do We Really Send Our Children To School?

This morning children from all over will start bustling back into their classrooms.

Presumably, we send them off to learn, but learn what? How to acquire knowledge, get good grades, or perform well on tests? How to get along with others or be a better person?

Is the purpose to prepare them for college, a job, or life?

Recently, someone shared with me this video (scroll down) of the student speaker, Donovan Livingston, at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 Convocation. It has been viewed almost 13 million times and if you spend the five minutes to watch it yourself, you will quickly realize why.

It is a powerful and poetic reminder of what students want and need from an education. The excerpt below captures what we can and must do in education to help children move up.

“I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —

Tribulations into telescopes,

So a child can see their potential from right where they stand.

An injustice is telling them they are stars

Without acknowledging the night that surrounds them.

Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.

If you take the time to connect the dots,

You can plot the true shape of their genius —

Shining in their darkest hour.

Education is no equalizer —

Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.

So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices

Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.

Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.

Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness

For generations to come.

No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.

Lift off.”

Earlier he talks about one of his own teachers, Ms. Parker, who in the 7th grade “introduced me to the sound of my own voice” and told him, “Our stories are ladders that make it easier to touch the stars.”

One online viewer commented, “I only hope as an educator I touched even one child’s life in the profound way Ms. Parker touched Donovan Livingston. God bless!”

We are all educators. We all have the potential to help a child lift off.

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