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How Will We Remember This Unprecedented Experience?

I don’t know about you but I have found myself using the word “unprecedented” more in the last ten months than I ever did before. In fact, “unprecedented” has almost become cliché from overuse in recent times. The last ten months of pandemic upheaval, racial discord, and political battles have likely felt more like years for many of us due to the intensity of them and the sheer level of disruption of our lives.

For young people, the magnitude of what is happening in the world around them is even greater. To put this in perspective, think back to when you were an adolescent. For many of us, our experiences as young people were powerful, especially from the ages of 10 to 20. In psychology, this is referred to as the reminiscence bump. Friendships were more intense. Decisions felt monumental. Disappointments were harder to rebound from. We may have had our first love during this time. In fact there were many “firsts.”

The experiences we have faced during the last ten months also were “firsts” for most of us, but these firsts were not some of the expected firsts of adolescence, they were unexpected firsts. The memories we will take with us from this time in our lives will remain with us for the rest of our lives. Through what lens do we try to make sense of what has happened and the continuing evolution of our country’s response to public health, social justice and equity, and politics? And how might we help our young people to frame their thinking?

Yesterday we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the role he played as a leader in the civil rights movement as the reckoning of our country’s history of race relations continues to play out in a myriad of ways. There are so many profound things he said during his far too short life. Part of his legacy lives on through remembering his wise words. Among them:

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During these unprecedented times, thinking intensely and critically is a path to understanding and true scholarship. As a school, Roycemore strives to support young people to think critically, to understand diverse points of view, and to learn the importance of citizenship in our American democracy. This moment that we are collectively experiencing will affect young people in powerful ways, and certainly differently than it affects adults. However, by helping young people to cultivate “strength and careful judgement” as our school motto calls us to do, and by loving them unconditionally, we can help them reframe this moment as a time of great challenge, paired with accelerated learning, and hopefully profound breakthroughs as they gain new perspectives and confidence in their abilities.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Knoll, Unsplash