True Education

This summer, Bill Rich asked if I wanted a chance to help other students find ways to become socially active through the NGLN Steering Committee. I agreed, ready to help students feel more empowered. Last year, I was a member of a social action team called What’s the Story?, a program dedicated to get students involved in changing their societies. At the end of the course, I didn’t have the outcome that I wanted. I felt unsatisfied, like there was still more I could do. This summer, I decided I would be returning to that program to pursue a different topic than the one I did last year. But I still had doubts that I would actually be able to make a difference.

In the first weekend of October, I went to a conference about humanizing education. Here I found the experience I had been missing. I was introduced to an amazing group of people from all over the place, some had even commuted from Detroit, Michigan. We talked of what education was truly missing, a sense of humanity. How classrooms feel scripted and not spontaneous, like true learning is. Education should be free of teachers bending over your shoulder to make sure you’re focusing, trying to engage you in something you know won’t count now, it will only count later. Education should be more about preparing students for their present lives, not the lives they could live. At this point, I realized I had signed up for something important. And then I learned that other states were talking about the same thing. That our system is flawed and we can fix it. I felt the empowered to make a change that I had forgotten existed in students.

It’s been a month since that conference, but I haven’t forgotten what I learned there. I remember it every time I walk into my classes at school and I will always see a system that needs to be fixed. I am here to ask if you all see the same thing. If you are unsatisfied with your education that people have told you is so important. And it is important, but only if you make it important. I know I will try to always ask questions, will try to always look for something that could be changed. I will tell my teachers what I see, instead of keeping quiet, like I think most students do. I will do good work with What’s the Story? and will try to engage as many of my fellow students as I can through NGLN. My final take away is this: you don’t have to be special or a genius to make a difference. It’s your education. Make sure it’s true education.

Elsa Lindenmeyr

One Response to “True Education

  • Lou Bernieri
    4 years ago

    I love all your comments but especially the ones about “humanizing” education, Elsa. When youth and adults begin with the assumption that education should be humanizing, the discourse about education immediately transcends the narrative we hear over and over again about the importance of standardized testing and of standardizing the curriculum. So many things about the “data-driven” , standardized education that has strangled the nation’s schools are dehumanizing, destructive, and idiotic. Young people need to demand that their education is personal, joyful, empowering, community-based, and humanizing. One thought I had is that students might create a national Student Bill of Rights that NGLN can get behind and disseminate. How can we bring more youth into our conversations and activism? (The Lawrence Student Bill of Rights might be a place to start. )

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