The other day I wrote a blog which began with the line, “When I enter the schools of other teachers wearing my hat of “YA author” to do student assemblies, I am treated to a rare vantage point.”
First off, I’d be entirely lying if I did not admit how much I really adore doing student assemblies. A variety of reasons exist for this.
To begin with, when I was in high school, I thought all authors were dead. Fact is, well over 90% of the books assigned to us to read in class had been written by dead people. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration. 99% of the books assigned to us had been penned by folks who’d long since kicked. I was underestimating in order not to offend anyone because, as anyone who knows anything about books clearly knows, live authors can’t possibly measure up to dead ones when it comes to elevating the literacy skills of today’s kids.) Truth is, I only wish I’d been a teen who had the chance to grow up in a YA Lit Renaissance, like the age in which today’s young people are now living. I never had a real, live, in the flesh book author come visit my campus. Heck, I’d never even met a professional writer of any type til I got to college. And certainly, I don’t recall anyone ever even suggesting I could make a career out of writing.
For those kids in the audience who hold aspirations to become storytellers or poets or artists or musicians or filmmakers or game designers or dreamers of any sort, really, I get to be the guy who says, “It can come true. No promises but if you don’t ever take the risk to find out, you’ll never know what you can be,” I tell them. “Sure, it’s confrontational, gut-wrenching and requires immense sacrifice but what in this world that is truly worth achieving doesn’t?”
That message plays well. And being able to offer that idea in a school system gone absolutely bonkers with bubble tests as the raison d’etre for public education in America, well… all I can say is I feel honored and lucky to be able to fight the good fight.
And fight the machine.
I mean come on, school and education is about so much more than assessments yet so often I wonder, what percentage of today’s education system is really delivering that message to today’s kids in deeds as opposed to mere [lip service] words?
Plus, since we pretty much cancelled all field trips since NCLB burst gloriously onto the scene, this is sorta like a field trip that comes to them. In a David vs. Goliath way, it’s work that feels important.