I am sitting in my classroom, watching the summer rain beat decidedly against the window - a reminder to me that “green” requires some meteorological sacrifice, and a reminder to the students that it’s not vacation until they finish the state English test placed before them. With a cool New York rain outside, and a traditional New York state assessment inside, why am I inadvertently thinking of a very hot, dry, and unsafe place on the other side of the world?
I truly don’t know much about Iran. Because of a serious news event from my childhood, I usually think of this country as being followed by the word “contra”, although I’m not sure I could explain that to you. As a comfortably middle-class American, Iran and its people do not realistically affect my existence. But as I sit in school, I can’t help thinking of the tumultously fascinating situation that is happening RIGHT NOW in this dangerous place.
Right now these safe American students, who cannot leave my room until 10:00am, craft a hand-written essay that must include “specific and relevant evidence” that develops a “controlling idea” using various literary elements in a “logical and coherent manner”. Oh, and please follow the “conventions of standard written English” when you communicate your ideas effectively.
Right now these proactive Iranian citizens, who cannot leave their country, are risking their lives via Twitter and YouTube, starting a revolution in 140 characters or less. Acting as citizen journalists - covering pro bono the most volatile news story in the world in spite of their own safety - they are telling the world their story and their opinions.
Is there a rubric for that?
As they watch the rain and the wall clock, having long finished their exams and waiting for their impending freedom, I wonder if our students feel empowered by their education or even think of it at all. When their cell phones are returned to them at the exit, will they consider the power that sits with potential in their hands?
I wonder how effectively we’ve positioned them to inherit this new media, this new world.
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