“…We have seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded…”
(Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb, Inaugural poem, January 20, 2021)
Our nation’s first ever youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, was referring to the attack on the US Capitol that nearly overturned the results of our election. Like millions of people around the world, my family and I watched in horror on January 6 as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol with weapons, broke windows, and violated the space. My parents tried to explain what was going on to me and my 5-year old sister as best as they could, but I had so many questions. Why would people want to believe in lies about fraud elections? Why would people ever elect such a President who would support the riots at the Capitol? Why would people ever want to threaten our democracy, of which we are so proud?
The very next day, when I logged on to school, I noticed that the event was all but ignored by the school, beyond some meaningless statements about school being a safe place for everyone and the availability of the school counselor for students who may need support. Life went on as if nothing ever happened. I think that my school did not mention these events because they think that students should only learn what is in the curriculum and not what is happening right now.
I find this disconnect between what is happening in our world and what we are learning very upsetting. School is not only for learning about the past, but also about the present. We need to learn how what we are learning is linked with what is happening around us. I feel that when schools ignore events like these, we, the future generation, will be uninformed and ignorant. We will only learn to not care and ignore these events ourselves.
The role of our schools should be to encourage democracy. We should learn about what caused the events at the US Capitol. We need to understand how it was possible for some people to attack the US Capitol. Are there laws that can ensure that this does not happen again? How can we learn what information is true and what is false? What can we do so that we do not have false information in the first place?
If we learned about what was happening in the world, we would want change things. We are often told “children are the future; they are our hope.” Unless we teach students how to use their power for just causes, teach them they have power too, show them that they are part of the community and connected to it, how can we be prepared to change the world? Schools should encourage students to protest or boycott things in a peaceful way. This would encourage students to stand up for their principles and values. It is time for schools to empower the children of the United States.