Dreaming is easy. Turning dreams into reality is hard. Turning really big dreams into reality is the hardest; this is the path of the warrior. Turning education from the industrial age to the future is one of those big dreams. Therefore, by the immutable rules of logic, we need warriors.
The warrior is a parent, maybe even a single parent, or a parent who has lost a job and leaves home day after day to search for that elusive new one that will allow them to create opportunities for their children that they did not have themselves.
The warrior is the athlete, artist, or researcher with passion, putting in years of sweat and practice, knowing that even with all of that, one in a hundred or a thousand will make it to London next week, to Carnegie Hall next year, or to the cure in this lifetime.
The warriors are the peacemakers, risking their lives to protect little girls from acid thrown by our generations’ descendants of the SS, the NKVD, the KKK, the Inquisitor, because the little girl had the bad luck to be born a little girl.
The warrior is the explorer, the Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart and John Hunter, who take personal risks to show that the universe is always much larger than we ever thought it to be.
The warrior is the teacher, like so many of you reading this blog, who rallies against inertia, apathy, political pressure, fear, a resource vacuum, to step outside of convention, take risks, turn the tough dream of a better way to teach into the reality of a next generation skilled to do better than we have done in the past.
I am reading Leon Uris’ novel of post-war Berlin, Armageddon, so my bar for the warrior is high. Faced at home with a country weary of war and sacrifice, a handful of warriors, just months after defeating the lightning horrors of Nazism, refused to abandon two million Berliners to the equally dark pit of Stalinism. Our bar for true warriors is the Greatest Generation, not because they picked up guns, but because they turned impossible dreams into reality.
We don’t have a lot of hero-warriors in public life today. Our political leaders on both ends of the spectrum have largely confused courage with self-serving fanaticism. Few of our star athletes and artists in the limelight pay more than lip service to anything larger than their egos. They are horrible role models for our young people. But we educators get these kids seven, eight, even ten hours a day. A good teacher teaches what is in the curriculum. The warrior teaches algebra AND passion; English AND courage; physics AND peacemaking; history AND resolve. We can teach them who they need to be if we stop working so hard teaching them what they need to be. This is a dream that has finally started to peek out from the dark, but it won’t become a reality unless we educators adopt the ways of the warrior.