Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rethinking Myth and the Heart

This generation of students has been given more privileges and opportunities than all previous generations combined. We have incorporated technology into the classroom and the home as never before, in an attempt to deliver educational material in a manner that is exciting and informative. In fact, my first book, E-Teaching: Creating Web Sites and Student Web Portfolios Using Microsoft PowerPoint, touted the educational benefits of using technology in the learning process. Technology is an invaluable asset when it comes to educating our youth—but we must realize that students need more than technology can offer.

We are connected to other learners around the world through the Internet and various other forms of instant communication. The knowledge of all the ages that have preceded us is now at the fingertips of this generation of young people. Ultrarealistic movies and video games entertain them in every way possible. What more could they ask for?

On August 20, 1999, two high school students walked into their school with loaded firearms and homemade explosives and began opening fire on their fellow Columbine High School classmates. Every day in this country, students drop out of school, get suspended, get into fights, try drugs, steal, cheat, lie to their parents, and betray friendships. We are losing them. Why? What have we not given them? The answer is that we have not taken the time to connect with them at the level of the heart.

When the topic of the heart and soul comes up in a school meeting, too many teachers and other adult leaders say something to the effect of, “Whoa! I’m not going there.” Those who work with students, especially public school teachers, have approached matters of the spirit with a great deal of trepidation. We have been instructed to leave that area alone. However, if we see an insufficiency and our knee-jerk reaction is to say that it is not our responsibility to meet it, then we will reap the whirlwind in the days and years to come.

There does not need to be a national movement, nor a change in school policy; rather the current situation calls for a change in the policy of individual hearts toward young people. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” We need to finally admit that there is more to a student than simply their grades, friends, sports, and family. There is a heart, a spiritual core to every young person. We must “go there.” The world has changed quite a bit over the past few years. We are starting to view our young people in a new light. Realizing that the tests and challenges they face throughout the adolescent years are more than just things they will “get over,” many have come to the conclusion that all who really care about today’s youth need to view these challenges through a different lens. The lens that we need is myth and story.


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