Monday, February 26, 2018

Be Brave, Be Loud, Be Better

Photo by Cynthia Cotten

It is light, the world is awake
And the great night flees the dawn
That came
A wild light
Casting a somber radiance on the world.
The red is the anger, blood and shame
In the eyes of awakened nations.

--Sandor Petofi, 1848.

Carmela started our discussion with Two Things I Love About Teaching Writing. Esther continued with the many ways she connects with her students and the resources she connects her students to, and April followed with how she likes to perform for her students. stating, “And that's what I like about teaching: the intangible, gloriously wonderful, unpredictableness of it all.”

What I like about teaching are the students. Their hope and courage to face the future. Because students change the world. And this week reflects that certainty of that more than ever. Once again, students march to change the world.

Sandor Petofi was a Hungarian poet and student, whose poem “Nemzeti dal (National Song) inspired the Hungarian war for independence from the Hapsburg Empire in 1848. Over a hundred years later, in 1956,  at the height of the Cold War, his poetry inspired the students of Budapest to demonstrate Soviet-led policies. The students led the way to the collapse of the Soviet-indoctrinated Hungarian People’s Republic .

 Set against the backdrop of economic and social changes sweeping post-Mao China, students led a march in 1989 against Chinese political corruption in a fight for democratic reforms, the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. A million people gathered in Tiananmen Square, facing down military tanks. This iconic David and Goliath-esque photograph reflects the pivotal moment as one student's extraordinary courage ultimately stopped the onslought.

In our own history, more than 4000 school children marched in 1963 through Birmingham, Alabama,  known as the most segregated city in America at the time. The Children’s Crusade became a defiant and defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Even as soldiers and police pounced upon the students, jailing as many as 1000 the first day, the students still came out in droves, chanting “Freedom.” The world was watching, and judging, as images of young children march up to snarling police dogs, police club women and use high pressure hoses to sweep the children aside. For more information, see Teaching a People’s History/ Zinn Education Project

Once again, students are changing the world. Poets and students inspire their teachers. They teach us to be brave, and be loud, and be better than we thought we could be. To be better than what we are.

Never Again
(for Emma Gonzalez)

Be brave, be loud,
stand tall, stand proud,
and make your voices heard.
Enough’s enough—
stay strong, stay tough,
and keep on, undeterred.

Ignore those who
discredit you,
who doubt you’ll see success.
To them we say,
“You’ve had your day,
and now we call ‘BS!’”

So, carry on
until you’ve won.
Reform is overdue.
Shrug off those hacks—
we’ve got your backs.

We stand, we march with you.

--©Cynthia Cotten  2018. All rights reserved. 

Bobbi Miller


Yvonne Ventresca said...

Very timely!

April Halprin Wayland said...

FanTASTic post, Bobbi. SOOO well said and inspiring. Thank you, thank you!