Our feelings about the present are always out of context. What immediately seems good or bad does not always turn out that way in a week, month, or even a year later.
As we cannot see the future, we lack the full context for the immediate.
It is a human curiosity that we shape our impressions by the page of the book we are on rather than waiting until the end of the story.
There are, of course, some stories that cannot wait to be fully told before we form an impression. When an objective truth is unavailable, we must act on good faith with what we have in front of us.
The title of this post is “School Strike.” Undoubtedly, reading the title caused you to immediately form an opinion. Expectations were set subconsciously for what you were about to read.
In that regard, perhaps the opening paragraphs provided an odd first impression. The title referenced strikes, and I moved on to write about how our initial feeling about something is not always accurate.
A first impression provides a frame of reference; it is a rather immovable anchor. Since the human brain lacks the ability to evaluate its reality objectively, your first impression is not my first impression.
So, what is your first impression of the climate strike that is taking place in schools across the world?
Maybe you scoff. Maybe you feel angry. Maybe you feel empathy. Maybe there is relief. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe ... all of these feelings are out of context. We do not know when or how our collective story will end, and we are all at the whims of our initial anchor. In every case, the media distorts that anchor.
The Three R's
It is a great irony that the three R's are clashing with the three R's in young generations.
As Greta has so bluntly reminded us, we have no need for more scientists if the science is categorically ignored by political leaders. What these school strikes are doing – as every strike is designed to do – is to call attention to a situation that is unacceptable.
These children are worried about inheriting an inhabitable planet.
My position in these matters should be clear if you have been following this blog: does it matter if you can multiply if you cannot breathe?
At a systemic level, this problem is one that we encounter in our daily lives. A confusion between what is urgent with what is important. Waiting for them to become the same usually signals a problem.
It is absolutely important to learn and grow. It is urgent that we have an environment that enables all of us to learn and grow. Moving up 20,000 feet, we also have to examine if what is being taught supports the premise that the environment is urgent.
Statistically, there are plenty of "A" students out there whose daily actions contribute directly, and in great magnitude, to planetary destruction. “Study hard, get good grades, and you’ll get a good job.”
Clearly, something went wrong.
Public schools purport to prepare students for their future. Protests are ongoing since that future may not exist. As parents and adults, our reactions to this situation are out of context since we lack a crystal ball.
What can we do instead of galvanize a first impression? We can act with faith that we must do something differently to keep our planet inhabitable. Our first impression may be anchored by consumerism rather than sustainability.
We are conditioned, mostly by our technology, to live life passively. Virtual reality allows us to take a walk in nature instead of to experience nature. Social media keeps us in touch, and we do not notice what we have lost without the physical presence of a good friend. We are told to watch movies instead of trying to live a life that would put those storylines to shame.
Confounding matters is that these children are not learning skills that will prepare them for a drastically different future. Public schools assume the existence of a crystal ball: study a topic in the present and take a corresponding assessment in the future. The future is assumed to be known.
Except that it is not. The upcoming challenges are not in a textbook. There is no study guide.
This is why Jade is based on Montessori ideals and why I have opted to expose my children to a Montessori environment whenever possible. An unknown future requires independent thinking and critical evaluation in real-time. It is not a passive life.
Conformance is the hallmark of public school; conformance gives the status quo more inertia. Maintaining the status quo is treated as urgent. But it is not important. And conformance is a strong first impression that many of us hold on to.
The status quo is at the heart of these protests. Children are protesting OUR inaction. Our comfort with being distracted from what is important. It is urgent that we keep up with our daily routine, but ultimately not important.
An individual in protest means nothing. If you personally vow to boycott an unethical product, the corresponding industry does not shut down. It is the symbolism that matters: when one person focuses on what is urgent, and tells the world about it, other people are pulled up to do the same. Our collective power can effect great change. It is not symbolic.
This is why Shift Sight exists. With a product under development, we are simply a symbol. As a symbol, we will not generate change. But our protest, and our existence, has already and will continue to pull up others.
Collectively, we can get to sustainability. The first step is to echo and empower voices like Greta's. The second step is to provide a path toward sustainability. Our contribution toward this ambitious second step is Jade.
We are but one startup of many driving the action behind the protest.
See you next week!
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.