Taylor Swift. I know who she is. I probably hum or sing along to her songs, possibly without knowing that they are hers. One of our music teachers showed me a Flash Mob this morning of her song “Shake It Off”. None of these things are remarkable and up until about six minutes ago, I had no opinion one way or the other if you had asked me, “What do you think of Taylor Swift?”
But that was six minutes ago.
Now, six minutes later, in response to your question, I would describe Taylor as smart, educated, a quick-thinker, articulate, thoughtful, honest, and an empowering, encouraging role model to young girls and women, globally.
I read an article tonight about some students in Denver, Colorado who walked out of classes in a planned protest again the School Board’s recent proposal to that course materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”
As I looked at this photo, I couldn’t help but think how incredibly proud their teachers must be. To have organized (via social media and texting) a peaceful, educated protest in order to have an education that allows them the opportunity to learn from history.
They were not the only young people using their voices for good this week. Brown graduate and actress, Emma Watson, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York for the HeForShe campaign, the goal of which is motivating men and boys to end gender inequality.
Her speech was a strong, educated, passionate example of how important it is to seize any opportunity that comes your way when given the chance to use your voice. Emma shared her own nervousness about her speech, offering the following advice to herself and to others who may question wether or not they should speak out:
In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt, I told myself firmly: if not me, who? If not now, when?” – Emma Watson, UN HeForShe Speech
Finally, motivation doesn’t get much more motivational than from high school football player, Apollos Hester. He delivered the following speech in response to his team winning their football game by one point:
All of these young people are remarkable examples of how powerful their voices are. This made me question my own teaching and how often I encourage and give opportunity for students to raise their voices.
How do you allow your students to raise their voices in your classroom? Could you hang this poster in your classroom? Would your kids believe you meant it?