Thursday, 14 March 2019

Striking school children

are apparently heading off to "protest" about climate change. 
I am glad they are concerned about the environment but I am alarmed that they believe this is the way to show their concern.
Oh  yes they will get away from school for a few hours, perhaps even an entire day. It will be "fun". The adrenalin will flow. They will  feel important and part of something big - for a short time.
It will also disrupt schools and cause tension between those who want to attend, their parents and those who act in loco parentis.
The students at Ms W's school are not permitted to attend. Any student who dares to do so will find themselves in serious trouble. It is a policy agreed by the students themselves as well as their parents and the staff. The students actually voted on the issue. 
Ms W informed about all of this over the weekend. She informed me that "A couple of the girls thought it would be okay to go but they are the sort of person who doesn't think. "
So what made the others think? 
   "Well we talked about it and what the best way is to tell the government you are worried about something. It's what you have your member of parliament for so we thought about that  too. "  
Ah, right. Ms W's father works for politicians of all descriptions. He is one of those who does things like draft legislation and much more. She knows about these things because he believes she should know what  he does. She knows members of parliament of all persuasions too. 
And she knows that going off to "protest" is going to get some publicity but that it isn't going to change anything. 
    "So we are going to do what you said ages ago," Ms W informed me, "And Mrs..... (her current form teacher) wants to know if you will come and talk to us about it again." 
Oh, right. There was an email from her teacher asking just that. 
So I went in yesterday morning. It had to be first thing in their pre-class time. It took five minutes to remind them of how to write the letter and why writing a letter is so much more effective. They know that just one letter isn't going to get far but they also know that if others take the same action then something might happen. I reminded them that it might take time too. But I also reminded them that this is the much more adult way of going about "protesting". 
I left them deciding what they were going to say. I know they will get an answer from the MP in whose district the school stands. I also know it will be a considered letter because he is concerned about their concerns.
It is all so very different from the way the Leader of the Opposition in another state was encouraging the students to "go out on strike". His support for their actions was irresponsible in the extreme. Of course students have a right to be heard but encouraging teenagers to gather together like that is not responsible.
He could have encouraged them to write letters as well, actual letters not emails. If they had written hundreds of those in a thoughtful way and with the correct spelling and grammar that would have an impact. 
I don't think schools are any place for partisan politics or protests of any sort. Whatever views teachers hold they should keep those views to themselves and present students with a balanced picture on all issues. That doesn't prevent teachers from teaching students how to protest effectively. It might just make their students more effective at protesting.

No comments: