Change the World… Change School

From “Young People Are the Geniuses Who Change the World,” Angela Maiers, Switch & Shift: Human Side of Business, 7/28/2013 [HT Angél Kytle]

At Choose2Matter, our opening line in speaking to young adults is “You Are a Genius, and the World Needs Your Contribution.” Next, we tell them they can change the world.

Why do we say this?

Because studies show that, at the age of five, 100% of students believe they can, and will, change the world. When I visit with first-graders, they always confirm this by enthusiastically charging the stage en masse when I invite them to share their genius and tell me their ambitions for changing the world.

By the age of 9, only half of students believe they are geniuses who can change the world.

By the age of 16, just 2% of students believe they are geniuses who can change the world.

When I visit high schools, I see something very different than I do in elementary schools. The genius is still there, but it’s buried under years of schooling. How? I’ve actually had educators and parents comment on my posts that we shouldn’t tell students they can change the world, because it sets unrealistic expectations. My response: unrealistic for whom?

An incredible post that then highlights nine young people who are changing the world. One of the people is Jack Andraka, whom I spotlighted on my own blog before. And there are eight more.

Correction. There are THOUSANDS more! MANY THOUSANDS!

A few more of the many – all whom I’ve met thanks to TEDxAtlanta:

Brittany Wengerpost and TEDxAtlanta Profile and Talk

Brittany Wenger, a high-school senior, is well on her way to making the diagnosis of breast cancer less painful and more accurate.

Clare O’ConnellTEDxAtlanta Profile and Talk

At age 20, Claire O’Connell is a co-founder of EyeWire, an online game / “citizen science initiative” that’s helping to map the human brain by mapping the connections between retinal neurons.

Hannah SalwenTEDxAtlanta Profile and Talk

Kevin Salwen is a writer and entrepreneur. With his 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, he is co-author of The Power of Half. The book is the story of a eureka moment by Hannah that resulted in the Salwen family’s commitment to reduce their consumption by half — started by selling their house and moving into one half its size.

School is not just preparation for real life. School is real life. And real life could be school.

Einstein said, “It’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Survives.

How might we enable curiosity to THRIVE in formal education?

By helping school become more about the “business” of real-life, relevant work. There are armies and armies of young people who care and want to change the world. A few will demonstrate the initiative to do so in spite of the rigidity of an industrial-age school system. But how many more might be activated, inspired, and motivated IF school were structured to nurture such inherent passion for wanting to make the world a better place – while the learners are IN school?

Recently, at our school, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, faculty T.J. Edwards (@TJEdwards62) and Mary Cantwell (@SciTechyEDU) have invited and enlisted others in our ranks who might want to work on OpenIDEO’s Creative Confidence Challenge.

What if we ALL participated?!




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