Lance Scranton: Really?
Kids will generally act like kids, make mistakes, sometimes surprise us, but we always understand that they are young and prone to making less-than-adult decisions. So, it was a little bit surprising to have students report in class on a young person lecturing adults about climate change — at the United Nations no less. The spectacle was recorded for all to see and unless you are completely out of touch; you can easily find the young girl’s comments on the internet (she was upset).
Some school districts across the country have also allowed students to skip school to attend protests on climate change. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a teacher too long, but I always thought that the responsible thing to do was to keep children in school and educate them on personal responsibility and learning to understand how to manage priorities. Students certainly have the right to make many of their own decisions about how they spend their free time but when they are in loco parentis the schools are responsible for making educationally productive decisions.
Children will inherit the planet eventually, and I can understand their concern about the imminent peril that our planet is in because of the irresponsible behavior of present and past generations. All of this ravaging of the earth for its natural resources to make our lives better is just not what young people think is the right way to live.
I’m certainly glad that kids care about our planet and I often tell them that it starts with them: pick up trash when you see it, ride your bike more often, walk a little bit more, stop eating fast food. There are so many ways that students can be advocates for a cleaner planet, but those kinds of things just don’t get the attention that a big splashy speech at the U.N. or skipping school to take part in a protest will make.
Maybe teaching children about the cost/benefits of using the natural resources and economic models to make their lives better would be more productive and enlightening. Oil-based products have made most of our lives richer and better because of the fruits derived from these natural resources. Free market economies provide children access to the very products and information that get them excited about being a responsible citizen.
As is so often the case, the issues are a little bit more complicated than simply lecturing and protesting. Sure, kids have the right to express their opinion and be concerned about the future. But, keeping things in perspective is important and making children think that their future is constantly in peril is an irresponsible thing to do and using young people to make emotional pleas for the planet is surely beneath contempt.