The strange thing is, I would be surprised if it were any other way. Deep down I knew that despite the greatest efforts by the most well intentioned people, indoctrination is a monster. Breaking through the impenetrable wall of the status quo is nearly impossible. While the short range goals were honest and good, the outcome was business as usual. Real change is scary. It is so much more comfortable to go through the motions of change and dive into ideas than to tear down walls and build up innovation. Age, class, race, gender, and mostly life experience drove a deep division between the participants and the sponsors. The gap never did converge in any significant meaning.
So what do I tell my students when they ask me what I thought of the experience? Do I tell them that the most meaningful part was when the leader positioned the microphone front and center and invited kids to come forward and speak from the heart. Do I tell them that the only authentic movement toward leadership came during open mic when kids spoke about injustice and fear and loneliness and never giving up? Do I offer adult wisdom and guide them to arrive at their own evaluations? Do I provide a tantalizing koan to tease out their own understandings? Or, do I model real leadership and just listen?