The incredible positive power of youth - what #Egypt is teaching teachers

  • To our friends around the world: The Events in Egypt
  • 30 Jan 2011
  • The world has witnessed an unprecedented popular action in the streets of Egypt.  Led by Egypt’s youth, with their justified demands for more freedom, more democracy, lower prices for necessities and more employment opportunities.  These youths demanded immediate and far-reaching changes. This was met by violent conflicts with the police, who were routed.  The army was called in and was welcomed by the demonstrators, but initially their presence was more symbolic than active.  Events deteriorated as lawless bands of thugs, and maybe agents provocateurs, appeared and looting began.  The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria.  They are collaborating with the army.  This makeshift arrangement is in place until full public order returns.

    The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters.  I am there daily within the bounds of the curfew hours.   However, the Library will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and events unfold towards an end to the lawlessness and a move towards the resolution of the political issues that triggered the demonstrations.

    Ismail Serageldin
    Librarian of Alexandria
    Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • This post by the Director of the new library at Alexandria gave me goosebumps. First, it showed his dedication to protecting this iconic institution of learning, and second it showed how fully he trusted the positive power of young people.

    We as adults, we as teachers, need to recognize how vital a role youth can play in the most important and real-world situations. We mustn't only let them experiment in a sandbox, in our classrooms. Real growth and learning can, should, and must occur in their worlds, with them shaping the path.

    Let's work on letting kids loose to save the world as their young Egyptian counterparts have demonstrated.