what schools should know;

what schools should know;

my friends and i often discuss the difficulties of growing up.

in this ever-changing world, things aren’t looking up.

we thought we were ready, without a doubt.

now we wonder how we’ll ever find a route out,

let alone take charge, let alone make change,

what if we can’t even make our own way?

living in this day and age─

with advancing tech, maybe an advancing mindset?

yet an increase in wars that’s quickly advancing debt.

you might think we’re ready to take on the world, and if you do,

i’ll be forever grateful,

but the reality is, we need your help; something educational.

not as simple as a book, or a page unfurled:

things much harder to teach than 2+2,

or that cats say ‘meow’ and cows say ‘moo’.

we need to learn how to determine the false from the true,

how to treat ourselves and others, how to be, how to do.

we are given all of these dates and all of these facts,

but what’s the point if we just absorb and don’t ask?

questioning, critical thinking, communication─

not just panicked, last minute memorization.

it shouldn’t be about how much we can recall,

what about whether or not we can analyse, investigate, think at all?

besides, because of endless tests, some of us get no rest─

we beat ourselves down, into the ground:

having never learned how to take care of ourselves,

some of us that flounder might end up drowned.

personally i don’t care about twenty useless football plays,

please just take us outside to catch the last sun rays.

(and then those who like football can put the plays into practice all day)

and we’ll learn about wellbeing in ways that will last us for years, instead of for days.

in fact, you let us know about wellbeing, and while we know you’re well-meaning,

it’s hard to talk about our feelings,

when some of us are told that feelings are demeaning.

mental illness is rising, and though we are trying,

a lot of us can’t look towards tomorrow without crying.

without thinking, we hurt and isolate one another,

but if we don’t know how to connect with, forgive, take care of ourselves,

we’ll never be able to do the same for each other.

we don’t know how to express ourselves healthily,

have a habit of detaching from reality, and

perpetuating stereotypes like toxic masculinity.

and just like, without training, a pilot will crash,

and a firefighter won’t be able to save a house turning to ash,

we won’t be able to find who we are

without a guide who understands our flaws and scars.

and the thing is, this might be blunt,

but parents don’t always teach us everything.

that’s why we’re asking school to fill in what’s missing.

we’re willing to learn, if you’re willing to try.

don’t just test us on how to count by ones, twos, and fives.

please treat us and teach us like we’re your future,

alive.

• • •

Our thoughts are with those living where the Iran/Iraq earthquake occurred, as well as those targeted by the far-right march in Poland, and those who are do not have a place to be during the upcoming holidays. We hope that the leaders and citizens of countries affected will think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice. We pledge to do the same when we are affected by events like these. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and to do whatever we can to prevent further crises from happening.