The children of 1960s-era civil rights-leading parents, my siblings and I were always told that the key to success in life is education. Amid marching with Dr. King in Montgomery and meeting Malcolm X on their college campus in Tuskegee, my mother and father both came out of the 1960s with masters degrees and my father went on to earn a doctorate in education.
Throughout our K-12 school years, my older siblings and I always knew we would go to a university to pursue our interests and therefore ensure a successful future. Our parents placed high importance on reading, writing, social studies, the arts, math, science and higher education. Among many Black families, education is not a luxury, but a necessity.
In postgraduate school, I met my now husband. He was working full-time and finishing his graduate school program. Similarly, he viewed higher education as a way to ward off economic insecurity.
Today, my husband and I are parents to two elementary school boys, ages 10 and 7-years-old. I understand why my parents placed such a high importance on the future and by extension, on education.
While the environment has changed from the 1960s to today, the parenting anxieties are the same. There is a deep need to prepare our children for a successful, financially stable and happy future. And, with the astronomical changes in the last decade with technology, we are seeing that children learn differently today and have different expectations. I see it within my own two sons. Education is important in our family but we know that our children need learning to be relevant and meaningful. It has to have purpose.
Learning Is Happening Everywhere, In and Out of Schools
I first engaged with Remake Learning Days as a parent and then as the producer. Started in the Pittsburgh region by Remake Learning in 2016, Remake Learning Days is a multiweek festival of innovative hands-on events that engage youth and families with learning experiences that help youth acquire the confidence they need to thrive in this ever-changing world. I see both of my children light up when they are engaged in hands-on STEAM activities combining creativity, critical thinking, making and problem-solving to develop a cool project.
Our big news this year is that Remake Learning Days is taking root across nine regions, featuring nearly 850 learning events between April and June. I think about how this movement will inspire and create “light up” moments for more youth as they explore events related to arts, maker, outdoor learning, science, technology and my favorite, youth voice.
Learning is happening everywhere, both in and out of schools. It’s literally being remade everywhere. My husband and I appreciate the fact that our sons get excited by hands-on learning that can be taught online, at libraries, at tech startups, in museums and in community centers. These learning experiences provide exposure and encourage kids to dream big. Our sons could very well go on to write a best-selling book, invent YouTube’s successor or engineer the next big thing using beautiful and intricate origami folding. And, as parents, we realize our sons could go on to do any or all of this even without a college degree because there are ample learning opportunities in traditional and nontraditional places.
As a parent, I am trying to keep up. And, that is the purpose of Remake Learning Days, to help close this knowledge gap for parents and caregivers so that they can feel confident in providing a modern learning tool kit that will help prepare their kids for an exciting yet unknown future. It has also exposed me to many new community resources for my sons.
It takes a village to raise a family. You better believe that my parents will continue to indoctrinate my boys into the importance of higher education. And, my husband's parents will continue to let the boys tinker and make every summer at “Camp Grammy & Grampa." But, even the grandparents recognize that a successful future has many different paths. There is no doubt that our confident and capable children will march to the beat of their own drums, thrive in this ever-changing world, and make a beautiful difference in the future. Let’s remake learning together.