Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow

Estrella Pacheco, Staff Writer

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Modern America is now, more than ever a constantly changing social and political climate. With all the constant change, how are the roles of our educators transforming? Where once an educator’s purpose was solely to create literate students with basic education, now they are often tasked with the shaping of the young minds into capable citizens.  Educators have differing views on their own roles. Some believe their main task is to lead students to graduation, others to college and other teachers feel they are simply are engaged in the task of steering students towards becoming good human beings.

What is the most crucial thing an educator can do to prepare tomorrow’s youth for today?  According to Una Hall, a parent of a 10-year-old daughter and occasional substitute teacher,  a teacher’s role is “to raise children into adulthood, with the ability to think through problems, to find solutions, and with the principles to make them want to.”

While mainstream public education has long been criticized for teaching answers and not paths to them, in our current world it is becoming continuously more essential that the youth learn how to come to their own answers as they more commonly become the subject of our politics. With this increasing involvement, it would seem only right that students’ education prepares and inform them in regards to issues that are relevant in their own lives. Analy’s own Mr. Manriquez says “Most people are interested in topics that include them. Bringing into the lesson the students own background or lived experiences will help keep the curriculum relevant to today’s youth.”  He gives the example of using well-known superheroes to educate in classes with younger children. Perhaps if education began to include more relevant to students, student engagement would be more rampant. Many educators consider student engagement to be the ultimate confirmation of their success.

How might teachers create more engaged students, and therefore more engaged citizens? Besides teaching topics that are relatable, underlying messages and examples also shape young minds in similar ways, (ask any parent).  Lessons in behavior and morals prove to be inescapably necessary in the creation of empowered students. While public school teachers are usually instructed to be politically neutral, some teachers take this too far shying away of modern politics entirely. However, with changing social climates, and youth uprisings shaking the very foundation of our country with issues such as gun control and climate action, it is apparent that politics find their way into the school gates with increasing frequency.  It goes without saying that teachers have taken to including discussions and debates on many of the current political issues. However, it remains clear that despite an uptick in current events discussed in class students still lack a basic understanding of constitutional rights that pertain to themselves. Many students remain unaware of their own rights both in the school and out. Even fewer exercise these rights. In the USA the number students who walkout during global strikes stands strikingly small in contrast to other, even much smaller, countries. This brings us back to the underlying messages that students receive. Is it perhaps possible that by not being taught their student rights, or studying cases such as Tinker Vs. Des Moines, in which it was clearly established by the Supreme court that students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” that they are sublimally being taught that their rights are not worth teaching? Una Hall says, “In order for them (the youth)  to stand up for something, they need to see other people stand up for something.”

  Educators are some of the most influential people in our modern world, and taking a stance can be as simple as educating on several sides of an issue, or showing instances where others were standing for their rights.   They are changing the world through their work in raising empowered young citizens. As the world changes around us it is imperative that our education change as well.

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