About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Thompson: Schools and L'Dor V'Dor; From Generation to Generation

Oklahoma education bloggers have been challenged to articulate what we would do about schooling if we were a Queen or King for a Day.  The first ten of the 600-word posts are here. 

My aspiration is inspired by the words of Randi Weingarten who reminds us of the Jewish concept of L'Dor V'Dor, or "from generation to generation." I dream of a learning culture where each generation teaches and learns from each other.

My parents' generation, having survived the Great Depression and World War II, were committed to providing children with greater opportunities than they had. This was "Pax Americana" before our extreme confidence was shattered by Vietnam. In my postage stamp of the 1950s and 1960s,  children continually heard the exhortation, "Pay close attention, I'm only going to show you once."

Coming from parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and neighbors, those words were the opposite of a stern admonition. They challenged us to focus, so we could "learn how to learn." By the time we were teens, our mentors urged us to practice "creative insubordination." 

Never facing a shortage of caring adults for schooling us on life in a democracy, I learned as much "wrasslin iron" in the oil patch and from fellow workers as I did from formal education.  We Baby Boomers listened to Woody Guthrie and read Ken Kesey, and jumped into exploratory learning, often hitchhiking and backpacking widely.  

My buddies were first generation working or middle class. We assumed that tomorrow would be better than today. We sought social justice where everyone could enjoy the same opportunities that we had.

I was born in the middle of a forty-year economic boom, benefitting from the greatest economic miracle in history. Generation X was not so lucky. They experienced a forty-year drop in wages, and a growing gap between the rich and poor. In my neighborhood, the decline happened overnight. The Reagan Administration's Supply Side Economics, the savings and loans' and banking industries' collapse (which Reaganism prompted), and AIDS were followed by the crack and gang epidemic. 

My Baby Boomer friends found incredible joy nurturing poor young neighbors who sought safety and love. I wish the same fulfillment for today's generations, though not under such tragic circumstances.

Back then, the American Dream seemed to be in its death throes. We have since debated why the violence of the time receded. One reason, I believe, is that kids learned from their older relatives' experiences.     

If I had a magic wand, I'd wish that today's children would be socialized into the same hopefulness as the Baby Boomers, while benefiting from the realism of subsequent generations. I would love to see the children of the 1980s and 1990s pass down the innovation which prompted the digital miracles of the last generation. The hard-earned experience of learning to compete in the global marketplace could provide a nice balance to the confidence that my generation was granted.

That wish may be fulfilled. Millennials  might become the 21st century's Greatest Generation. They are the most multicultural and multiracial of our generations. They may face the prospect of lower salaries and benefits but, then again, they might reinvent our economy. And, they could help reinvent our schools.

My wish is that young people will find purpose and employment helping us create full-service community schools and achieve socio-economic integration.  Twenty-somethings could spearhead a Maker Movement or Teach Computer Games for America, and collaborate with students to develop new digital systems for authentic learning.  I wish them the joy an education version of a old-timey barn raising, making school a team effort, as they continue L'Dor V'Dor.-JT(@drjohnthompson)


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.