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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Students In Chile Revolt Against Education System

I hate to say I told you so…but it’s happening. In several places around the world, young people are staging revolts and demonstrations to change their nation. Have you heard about what’s going on in Chile?

Tens of thousands of teenagers and college students are committed to overturn the pitiful education system in that country. They say it’s lousy, expensive and unequal for students depending on their financial status. (Hmmm… I wonder if American students might revolt for the same reasons). Recent reports read this way:

“The ever-resourceful students, in groups of less than 10, managed to gather in great numbers around key points of downtown Santiago to face off with the police. For six hours, students and police fought pitched battles in several locations around the city centre. Students armed only with rocks held off the police, known colloquially as the “ninja turtles” for the green body armor they wear. Police rained blows on students, and threw canister after canister of tear gas.

“But by 4:00 pm, they had no choice but to agree to a ceasefire. The ceasefire lasted until 6.30pm, but by that time the police were too demoralized to fight back effectively. By 8:00 pm, the police had to retreat and cede the streets to the students and the large proportion of the population that supported them.

“The state had thrown everything it had at the students and lost. It is difficult to overestimate the psychological effect this has had on not just the students but the population at large.”

May I respond with some thoughts on this revolt?

1. Once again, it’s educated, free-thinking students who are fed up with lousy leadership. They see how badly adults have managed their country. Are we ready for such a revolt in our own nation?

2. The large population of young people in Chile makes victory a real possibility for these students. Police cannot contain them. In the U.S., Generation Y is the largest generation in our history. Are we ready for such an uprising?

3. The revolt in Chile is about bad education. I wonder if the real transformation in our own education system will have to be led by disgruntled students here.

One more thing. The students are often better leaders than their government. When buses come through the riot area, a student will stop the bus and get on. Then, that student will, in a very articulate way, explain exactly why they are revolting and why it is so important to the nation. They’ve now convinced a majority to agree.

What will it take for us to change in America? Do we need the kids to revolt?



  1. Ookami on October 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    You are an utterly disgusting person for twisting this around to fit your propaganda needs. I’m Chilean, I’m in my last year of high school, and I’m currently living in downtown Santiago. I’ve seen the marching, the protesting, and some of the fighting as well. There’s been clashes, and fights, but the students are not seeking fights with the police. The fights are an unfortunate side-effect of measures taken against the protests, but still FAR from a focal point of the uprising. The students did -NOT- meet in key points just to go fight the police.

    Stop being a sack of political garbage and at least tell some truths that people may be informed.

    • Tim Elmore on October 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      I appreciate the fact that you are in Chile and experiencing this revolution firsthand as a high school student. Thanks for taking time to add your point of view to the conversation.

      But when I read articles like this:
      it is hard to draw any other conclusion than the fact that students strategically organized these protests. We’ve seen a similar situation recently in Egypt where students organized a movement that resulted in the removal of Hosni Mubarak from office. They may not be intentionally picking a fight but they are certainly coming together around a common group of issues.

      I still ask the question: how long until we can expect this same type of behavior in America? The current Occupy Wall Street movement in New York may be first of many organized protests we will see closer to home in the coming years.

  2. D_indesign on November 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    yes we do, they’re the only ones who can actually make a difference! i’m one of em’

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Students In Chile Revolt Against Education System