'Keep Calm and Carry On' is clichéd. It's also missing two-thirds of the original message.

If you’ve ever been anywhere near a college dorm room, you’ve seen the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

The saying does have real historical context rooted in WWII Britain, but it’s better known for the period of time in the mid-2000s when it became a near-ubiquitous decorative staple.


Everywhere you went, the bold crimson and sans-serif lettering could be found taped up on walls, printed on mugs, tucked away in planners, hanging on keychains, slapped on bumper stickers — quickly followed by variations on theme, which became arguably more popular than the original.

This boom in commercial popularity quickly erased all of its original meaning and turned “Keep Calm and Carry On” into nothing more than a trite cliché.

Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images.

But “Keep Calm and Carry On” wasn't originally designed to be a novelty. It was actually an urgent plea — one of three slogans the British government released to rally the spirits of the people against the threat of Naziism during World War II.

Just before the outbreak of the war, the British government was in the midst of developing something they called “home publicity.” Up against the threat of Nazi forces, who famously garnered much of their support through propaganda, it was imperative the British government make efforts to unite the national community under the common goal of victory.

The publicity committee ultimately distilled their message into a poster campaign consisting of three simple slogans:

The attitude the government aimed to encourage — one of resiliency and strength — relied on all three parts of the message, not just the one we're most familiar with today.

While “Keep Calm and Carry On” by itself does communicate a certain measure of resoluteness, it can also easily become a message that encourages complacency. It's only when taken together with the other two parts of the campaign that we're able to understand the tough fighting spirit the British sought to promote.

During the war, two of the three slogans could be found printed all across the U.K. Photo by H.F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Funny enough, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was the only poster of the three the government never actually published.

There are conflicting ideas as to why “Keep Calm and Carry On” was never released to the public. One such report says it was decided the phrase was too condescending or too obvious. Another theory is that while the campaign itself was designed for the war, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was a survivalist message reserved for only the direst of circumstances: a German ground invasion in Britain. Since that never happened, the message was never released.

In 2017, let’s take a page out of Britain’s book and make sure all three of these posters are the ones that define our outlook.

Everyone is talking about how much 2016 sucked, but realistically, the number on the calendar had nothing to do with it. And the number on the calendar once the ball drops on New Year's isn't going to magically make all of the terrible things that happened this year go away. If we approach 2017 intending to just "Keep Calm and Carry On," there won't be anything standing in the way of next year turning out exactly the same way.

That's why we need those missing two-thirds of this message — because they remind us that a world we're proud of is one we need to work for. And your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution — your willingness to defend freedom and justice with all your might — these are the things that could bring us a brighter year ahead.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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