I suggest to you that these young people needed more from their teachers than inspiration and a safe space. All students should have a chance to write poetry in school. But all students need the opportunity to gain the basic skills that will allow them to move forward in school and make a decent life for themselves and their children. Shame on us if we fail to provide that.
This isn’t just about writing but about what we want from schools more generally. I’m all in favor of schools offering comprehensive wrap-around services, social-emotional supports, and opportunities for personal expression--indeed, I think we should do a lot more of that. But the reality is that, in order to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life, most kids need deliberate instruction in those skills and exposure to that knowledge, and for most kids schools are the only place they’re going to get that. Talking about comprehensive supports in no way mitigates the needs for schools to do a much better job of actually teaching kids what they need to know.
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.