Speak up!

Pic: Mustafa Khayat

I believe the purpose of education, the goal of it all, is human development and growth
From that standpoint, change comes naturally because naturally we change
The birds, the trees, the wind its breeze

But what happens when we resist the change that wants to be
What happens when we live in a society where power structures oppress and silence?
When once motivated change seeking teachers become bloody and bruised by a system that spouts: no child left behind and every child deserves an education
but in reality live by rules of division and inequality
Furthering the gap between the rich and the poor
Access to human, technological, economical resources denied
Opportunity passes them by because postal codes aren’t quite right
What happens in systems where expert evidence sits at the top while personal experiences and local knowledge don’t even get second glances
no second chances
Needs get ignored by the masses but the masses are really represented by small percentage with the power to devour the little people

So schools must be places of change and innovation so this can be reflected in society
And that change and innovation often begin with conversations
Critical investigation
Deep observation
Learning from who we come in contact with economically, culturally, socially
Picking up books to fill in the gaps
Making real world applications
Real world connections
Inviting the outside in
No longer do we turn a blind eye to everyday atrocities
Because we are in this together listening, sharing, reflecting, processing the lived experiences that connect us deeply to the human condition

No neoliberal agenda
No competition
No isolationism
This is a global solution
With a global understanding of the complexities of humanity

But it starts here
With teachers not afraid to show a softer side
Professionalism with vulnerability is a place where strength lies
Creating a safe environment so young people can speak their minds
Confidence, tolerance, resiliency found through the act of speaking
of listening without judgement,
of activating empathetic tendencies
Emotional learning
Discourse is a key to it all
Everyone has a say
Isn’t that democracy
Letting the people decide the way

This can start at a young age
Encouraging young people to use their words
Saying to them you have the ability to think, to reason, to question to communicate
And even if you’re not sure you know what you want to say
Speak up anyway
It’s been said, closed mouths don’t get fed
When you break the silence with noise

So speak up
Be heard
Don’t be afraid to fumble
To make no sense
To put an opinion out there
To have your words be representative of what you think, of what you believe
It’s scary to let people into your head, into your heart
But if we don’t speak up
Needs will never get heard
Things will never change
Dreams will never come true
We will stop hoping

And what is a generation without hope
It’s the starting point of a future that looks bleak
So we must teach our young people to speak up

About the Author(s): 

Alabama-born Ebony MonCrief is a performance poet, a slam champ, a motivational speaker and a creative writing teacher. She is also the founder of one of Melbourne’s favourite poetry and open mic nights, Voices in the Attic. She has studied international community development and is currently completing her Master of Teaching (Secondary).

Breaking Out issue: