I love that quote. Students, as teenagers, only notice a mirror. They only see themselves. Their main questions in school are: “What does this have to do with me? How will this benefit me now?” So many students complain about the curriculum at school. What does algebra teach us in our daily lives? What does literature teach us? Why do we need to study science and social studies? These subjects teach us about the world around us. Like the quote says, they turn a mirror into a window. They give us a peak of others in the world. Looking through the window, we become curious and want to know more. Looking through the window inspires us to look beyond ourselves. Wow!
In the book, Samir and Yonatan, that my 10th graders are reading, we are learning about two boys (one Jew and one Muslim) who are building a friendship. Instead of hating one another, they are learning to love. My students have compared this story to America’s divisions in race, religion, nationality, and finances. It is amazing how it is opening the window to conversations about the lives of their family, friends, and loved ones. I’m really looking forward to their project where they will try to “heal the hate.” I’ll keep you updated.
So next time you hear a student or an adult complain about education, remember this quote and teach it to them:
The purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows…Sydney Harris