Students should strike on Friday (and they should be punished for it)

An image of students at the London climate strike.
An image of students at the London climate strike. Photo credit: Getty.

An Auckland secondary school teacher for The Spinoff.

Here’s why you’re all wrong about the student “strike” about climate change that may or may not be happening.

Firstly, they should all be encouraged to go on the protest. Secondly, they should absolutely be punished for it.

Of course, they should be encouraged to skip school to protest climate change because this is the most urgent and important issue to ever face the planet.

It’s literally killing us and something needs to be done. Young people should be encouraged to be proactive, to take action about something they care about, and to know that they can and must make their voices heard.

Hell, the old people haven’t fixed it – I’m looking at you, me-and-my-parents-generations – so it’s more important than ever to empower our young people.

Will a bunch of them use it as an excuse to take a day off? Sure. But just because a small percentage of people abuse a system doesn’t mean the system itself isn’t worthwhile.

They should also be made to know that there are consequences to making their voices heard. Teachers are going on strike in a little while (yes, many of the same teachers who are saying the kids shouldn’t) and we’ll be losing income because of it.

When I went on student protest marches and occupied buildings in my early twenties, I did so in the full knowledge that I was risking arrest. And I lived in a democracy with police that didn’t like arresting middle-class white kids.

Far too many people risk their actual lives to make their voices heard. If the kids don’t care enough about climate change to get a couple of detentions, then they don’t care enough.

Any of my students who miss school on Friday to attend these protests should feel as much pride in themselves as I feel in them.

And they should feel just as much pride when they march themselves into detention on Monday as prisoners of conscience.

The Spinoff

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