Today’s Rebels Are Model Children

Source: The Parkland Rebels Are Model Children – The Atlantic

Today’s Rebels Are Model Children

The young protesters now on the march are responsible and mature—and they’re asking adults to grow up.

Emma González speaks at the March For Our Lives.
Anyone used to worrying about coddled young people, their backbone eroded by oversolicitous elders and smartphone addiction, was in for a surprisingly mature show of spine at last weekend’s March for Our Lives. The Parkland, Florida, survivors-turned-prodigy-activists and their followers—along with Dreamers and other youthful protesters lately—couldn’t possibly be denounced as out-of-control “bums,” President Nixon’s epithet for (older) student protesters half a century ago.

Quite the contrary. These young people do grit and gumption with star-pupil poise and politeness. “Sorry for the inconvenience,” read one teenager’s sign at the Washington, D.C., rally. “We’re trying to change the world.” Nearby, a kid proudly waved a neon-orange poster that proclaimed, in big letters, “GPA > NRA.” The call-and-response chant that carried the day, under the direction of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year-old granddaughter, conveyed the same overachiever zeal: “Spread the word all across the nation, we are going to be a great generation.” The Parkland student Emma González’s feat of silence at the podium, as the writer Nathan Heller tweeted, defied category: “the fact that it was conceived—and dared—by a high-schooler is breathtaking.” The adults on hand didn’t presume to boss off-the-charts performers like these around.  “If you don’t listen to them now,” read one woman’s poster, ”they won’t listen to you later.”

Last weekend’s march was not the first evidence of super-upstarts, aggrieved youths totally on top of their game in a way that few grown-ups in political life are these days. Two months ago, more than 100 sports-prodigies-turned-public-survivors made national headlines as they delivered their stunning version of the same call—protect us, and listen to us. At the sentencing hearing of Dr. Larry Nassar, convicted of serially abusing athletes under his care, his victims powerfully yoked personal trauma to a systemic indictment. “Adult after adult, many in positions of authority, protected you,” said the former captain of the phenomenal U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, Aly Raisman, staring straight at Nassar. “How do you sleep at night?… You are the person [the USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee] had ‘take the lead on athlete care.’… I cringe to think your influence remains in the policies that are supposed to keep athletes safe.”

The reverse side of the “Sorry for the inconvenience” sign at the march aptly summed up the unexpected generational dynamic on public display: “When our children act like leaders and our leaders act like children you know change is coming.” Today’s young protesters—the Dreamers have been at this for a while—aren’t extremist misfits, or out-of-control tweeters, or squabbling grandstanders. Their trademark is breaking the mold by being the ultimate model children. They win gold medals at the Olympics, write 50-page term papers on the U.S. gun-control debate, excel at the piano (as the girl who first inspired Senator Dick Durbin’s DACA mission did). They strive not just to fit in but to soar in America.

As disciplined achievers, they aren’t just a stark contrast to their shaggy 1960s forebears—viewed by their elders as “vagabond dropouts in a vaguely academic orbit,” Renata Adler wrote in a New Yorker piece about student organizers back in 1965. More relevant, they subvert stereotypes of Millennials and Gen Z kids as needy snowflakes. Young people, the refrain goes, have been hovered over at home and cosseted by “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” at school. Immersion in social media has corroded their attention spans, mental health, interpersonal relations, and agency in the real world.

Yet the recent upsurge of youthful activism doesn’t look much like a symptom of arrested development or fragility. The triggers that these kids are worried about are physical, not just psychological (guns are a leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds). No critic could construe their demand for safe spaces as a request for fainting couches; they’re talking about classrooms and doctors’ examining tables. Being traumatized hasn’t inspired this cohort to retreat. The Parkland kids were ready for more than quiet, private mourning,  and student leaders wasted no time in getting busy. Savvy about social media, they have been insistent about the need for real—not just virtual—contact and action. Rallying their peers hasn’t been hard.

Especially against the backdrop of current anti-establishment fervor, what stands out are the conventional priorities that seem to unite these student activists today—and the fact that those priorities represent an endorsement of mature responsibility. Kids demand that their voices be heard, but they aren’t pushing back against adult vigilance. They want more of it, not less. They’re campaigning for higher age limits for gun ownership. They want tough and consistent oversight, in the form of universal  background checks for gun sales, rigorous “athlete care,” coherent immigration laws.

Youth is impatient, of course. “We don’t like to wait for things,” a speaker at the march warned. How, Raisman demanded, could adults have blithely dismissed athletes’ complaints, year after year? Yet at the rallies, as in the courtroom, the more striking message was that adults shouldn’t assume kids are counting on instant gratification. They’re not stupid. They know first-hand how grownups stall, how distractions intervene. “Never again” is meaningless, Raisman insisted, until everyone implicated in the Nassar scandal is held accountable, however long it takes. “Vote them out” is a rousing chant, but “this will be hard,” a teenager at the D.C. podium emphasized. “Do you have the will?” Or as another put it, “This isn’t Coachella, this isn’t the Oscars. This is real life. This is reality.”

Fast-track kids are in a hurry, eager for glory—but they’ve also learned from experience (just ask Raisman) how much grueling work is entailed to get there. And the Parkland standouts need no reminders of how lucky they are to have the chance to keep slogging away, day after day. It’s the rest of us who do.

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There is Power when we stand together

This morning I was working out when “Learning To Fly” by Foo Fighters came on my iPhone. It has always been a personal favorite and I was really getting into it (and reminding my self NOT to sing out loud in Planet Fitness). When I got home I was looking for their video on youtube  to send to a friend as my “song of the day”.

What I came across was this:

The Rockin’ 1000. 1000 musicians play Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters to ask Dave Grohl to come and play in Cesena, Italy.

The Rockin’ 1000 organized in Cesena Italy in 2015 as a stunt to get Foo Fighters to play a concert there.  They were originally organized in a crowdfunding effort by Fabio Zaffagnini. Their initial performance in 2015 was made under the direction of Marco Sabiu.[5]

In November of that 2015 Foo Fighters came in a played a concert there!

 

Lesson- If you stand together- you can do just about anything.

What Was The BEST Part of Your Day?

Those who have been to my house for dinner or those who have come to one of my camps or training camps know this familiar question.  “What was the BEST part of your day?”

It is a conversation starter. A chance at reflection about your day and a chance to share a moment with those around you. One person poses the question to someone who must answer and pass the question on.

You may not know it’s origin.

On September 11, 2001 my wife and I were on our way to the airport in Boston to begin a vacation in Italy. We were nervous leaving our two young children behind even though we had two great people at our house taking care of them.

We were at our gym, Atlantic Gymnastics, when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Phones started ringing, we did not have a TV or radio in the building so parents were crowded around a car in the parking lot listening to the news. We were sickened, worried and frightened. The news, the lack of news, the speculation was over whelming.

We called the kids school to see if they were releasing the students early. The tearful secretary said, NO. The children didn’t know what was going on and that they were going to keep their schedule as normal as possible. She asked who was calling. I told her my name and she let out a sigh of relief. She knew our travel plans and was worried that we were on one of the highjacked planes.

We closed the gym early that day and headed home. I grew up in NY and had many friends and family who I could not get in touch with. The kids came home from school and immediately could tell something was wrong. Mom and Dad were home instead of on their way to Italy. There was a tension in the house. It was hard not to cry. All I wanted to do was HUG them. All they wanted to do was go outside and play.

When we all sat down for dinner, the four of us plus our two house sitters, our neighbors came over. They were worried that we were on one of the planes. When they saw all the cars in the driveway they thought the worst. Big tearful hugs.

The tension at dinner was intense. My wife looking for a way to break the stress asked, “What was the BEST part of your day?” . My face must have betrayed my surprise. I was thinking- “are you crazy, this is a TERRIBLE day.”  She said “Even on a hard day- there is one thing that happens that is good or great. So- WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY?”

I cannot remember how I answered. I do remember what she said. Her reply was. “Today is my friend Joanne’s birthday! I am so thankful for her in my life”.

To this day- each night, either at dinner or as we are relaxing at the end of the day someone asks, “What was the BEST part of your day?”.

Today- start that tradition in your house, In your gym, at your school, at your place of work. Ask someone- WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY?

And because you read this far- You might as well tell me in the comments section- What was the best part of YOUR day?

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Joann and Stephanie in Firenze

 

Schools CAN Keep Teachers Happy. If they try

It’s a nightmare workplace scenario: Your boss puts you in charge of training a new hire, but you don’t have adequate training materials, there’s no coordination or vision, and you get blamed when the trainee isn’t prepared.

That’s the situation America’s teachers often find themselves in as they prepare students to move to the next grade level. Thanks to underfunded reform mandates and the pressure of being blamed for the problems plaguing public education, teachers in the United States are stressed out—and they’re missing class or changing careers at high rates because of it. Now a new study provides some commonsense answers to the question of how to keep effective educators on the job.
The study, published in the October issue of the American Educational Research Journal, found that four main factors reduce high teacher turnover rates:

  • administrators who are committed to teachers’ professional development,
  • a safe school environment,
  • high expectations for students,
  • a sense of collaboration among teachers.

“We’ve been sort of consumed by the importance of the individual teacher’s role, either by strengthening their skills through professional development or exiting them and potentially hiring a better teacher,” Matthew Kraft, a professor at Brown University and the lead researcher on the study. “That has caused us to lose sight of the larger context in which the schooling takes place and the degree to which all teachers are holding students to high expectations.”

The researchers based their findings on results from the NYC School Survey from the 2008–2009 through 2012–13 school years, which was given to teachers, students, and parents in the district, as well as the city’s student assessment and administrative data. As opposed to more common one-school, onetime surveys, the five years of data covered middle schools representing a variety of socioeconomic situations, enabling the researchers to analyze why some schools improved while others got worse.

“What that allows us to do is compare this school to itself over time, with all the things that stay the same about the school: location, general student body, many other factors,” Kraft said. “Schools that experience improvement, as perceived by students and teachers in the school climate, also have corresponding decreases in turnover and increases in achievement.”

A working environment with effective leadership that fosters professional development opportunities for teachers to advance their careers was found to be among the more important factors for teachers remaining in positions. In the United States 200,000 educators, or 8 percent of the total workforce, leave the profession every year, according to the Learning Policy Institute. Kraft and his team found that quality management alone is associated with an 11 percent reduction of turnover. Schools with a strong sense of collaboration among teachers saw higher student achievement as well.

“A component of this is the quality of the professional development that the administration provides to teachers,” Kraft said. “When they have challenges or they’re looking for a unified approach across the school, do they perceive that the principal or the administration is capable of generating support across the workforce?”

Beyond the teachers and the administration, high academic expectations for students also play a major role in teacher retention. Maintaining a safe school environment for both students and teachers is also vital.
“Regardless of who’s teaching, if you’re in a school where a student is more focused on looking over their shoulder rather than the lesson, that’s a direct impact on the students,” Kraft said. “If the teachers are more consumed with managing behavior than they are in delivering instruction, then teachers are also less effective.”

Overall, the study suggests that teachers and students function best when the entire school acts as an ecosystem in which safety, collaboration, and high expectations are actively encouraged, as opposed to focusing on what may be wrong with one individual within the school.

“What we’re arguing here is that alone, improving these factors will help. It’s not a silver bullet, but the status quo is to sort of neglect these things,” Kraft said. “If we can help teachers to better support each other and their peers, that support may help them to feel more successful in the classroom, and it can impact student achievement by helping them to be more effective and reducing turnover.”