A Letter to My Students: Have I taught you well enough?

– Tammy Wolinsky

I have taught for 14 years.

I have likely taught over a thousand students to date. From different backgrounds, religious affiliations, cultural identifications, and I have always maintained that education is the key to understanding.

I have begun to consider or pay mindfulness to my fear that while I taught you literature, reading and writing, a need for questioning and debating, I have not taught you well enough to grapple with today’s world agenda.

This, my dear students, is a letter to you.

What you are witnessing in the media and world at large is, “A Game of Thrones.” It requires astute understanding, sophisticated questioning and more than anything else, a critical eye, and a moral compass.

Have I taught you well enough?

When I taught you that literature mimics life, that questioning is not only your moral imperative but your tool for survival, was that sufficient?

The media would purport to be objective, an even-handed balanced approach. Social online blogs, CNN, the BBC, your newspapers- both the sophisticated New York Times, and the less sophisticated subway metros- all hide behind neutrality and honest reporting.

Have I taught you to consider this is not always the case?

Have I taught you that sometimes things are blurry, that there are grey areas and that life is not always black and white? Have I also taught you that sometimes, it’s exactly that? More importantly, did I honor nuance, subtlety, complexity and concision so as to identify the difference?

I fear my students, all of whom I have come to love and understand, that you might not know how to get involved. That getting involved means not only protesting but knowing exactly who and what you are protesting against. That getting involved often means sitting back and listening. That speaking out can sometimes mean standing for something, as opposed to standing against.

Have I taught you that sometimes it’s appropriate to remain ambivalent and to honor that you simply don’t know, while also recognizing when you do and standing firm in that knowingness?

I write to you today because it seems your heroes, your adult leaders, your representatives in the world at large, are failing you as they are failing me.

I have taught you, but have I taught you well enough so you may find your way in a very trying and difficult time?

As I move into my 15th year of teaching- I can only hope I can do it better, that I can honor your right to a full understanding, that my moral compass will allow me to remain honest and ethical and facilitate that same growth in you.

I write to you today my dear students because you will be a testament to today’s world- for better or worse.