Twenty years ago at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, a 12-year-old girl from Canada, "silenced the world for six minutes" with her raw and powerful oration lambasting adults for dumping the problems they created onto the next generation. "At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world," she said. "You teach us to not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others and to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then, why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?"
Last March, Esquire revealed what it called the current "War on Youth." In July, Newsweek dubbed millennials "Generation Screwed." In the middle of this mayhem, young people have been left on the sidelines, given the cold shoulder, and ignored. In my life, I've been told to shut up, sit down, and listen. I witness this every single day at school. Top-down, rigid policies dictate word-for-word what students and teachers must do and learn. As a young person, very few seem to be on our side and even fewer attempt to strengthen our voice. Education thought leader Paulo Freire once quipped, "If the structure does not permit dialogue, the structure must be changed."
Read the complete essay.
Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"
My TEDxYouth@BFS "Educating for Freedom"
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