Thursday, October 4, 2012

“We don’t have a youth problem in America…

we have an adult problem.” –Bill Milliken, The Last Dropout

The Last Dropout: Stop the Epidemic!

I’m currently reading this book in preparation for my new job. Bill Milliken is the founder of Communities in Schools, and I am so inspired and motivated by his words. I feel strongly about his quote above. He spoke it during The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future on April 30, 1997. Here is the entire snippet from the book:

“All my life I’ve tried to do everything I could to be an advocate for young people and their needs. If you want to know what I’ve learned, here it is: We don’t have a youth problem in America – we have an adult problem..I’ve never been trained as a teacher. I don’t know how to give a course on male/female relations, or black/white/brown relations, or anything like that. But I can tell you, I’ve seen kids start to eat together in a school cafeteria where whites and blacks weren’t sitting at the same table because they saw adults coming together who happened to be black and white and brown, male and female, eating together and caring about one another. Kids learn from what they see, not just what they’re taught. We can talk about values, but if we’re not living them out, it won’t matter. You can’t give away what you don’t have. If we don’t care about each other – if we don’t have community – how can we expect young people to do any better?”

Um, YES! Preach it, sir. I really could not agree more with his thoughts on this topic. We can teach kids about things until we are blue in the face, but we, adults, have to model the behaviors, too. We cannot expect children to just run with a bunch of book knowledge, especially if they witness adults doing things differently. Adults hold so much power and personally, any and every moment we are around young people needs to be a teachable moment, in some form or another.

Make it count.


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