“When students are given permission to be their best selves, they take it, just as you and I would like to do,” Seth Godin’s blog post on bullying.
Bullying is a hot topic, one many of us have experiences personally or been in its proximity We see it daily to some degree and mostly allow it to proceed without comment. If we see a baby with a lit cigaret in its mouth we take action. Tabaco and young lungs are not compatible. The same with an intoxicated driver fumbling with their keys trying to get into a vehicle to drive home. Most of us act by helping the driver make a better choice. So why do we circumnavigate bullying without a comment? I suggest change comes not from the hierarchy but from those who are members of the tribe. If we want standardized testing reform in education, dramatic change will not come from the educational leaders but rather the students. Standardized test only work when the students obediently take the test. If a critical mass of students opt out of the SAT process, then universities and those who rely on test scores as the ultimate metric would be forced to consider new forms of assessment. Perhaps genuine and creative ones like a portfolio of student’s selected work where their talents are genuinely revealed.
As parents, educators, trustees, and community members we have failed to build a culture that promotes respect. True change may be left to the students. They are the risk-takers, the innovators, and the remarkable few who say aloud what many have thought but dared not risk in a public setting. It is time we give the students the stage and allow them to design the expectations of respect in action. Our greatest gift to the bullying culture may be to step aside an allow those that have endured its heavy weight to demonstrate humanity in action.