After spending the day with students in Calgary at the Digital Citizenship Symposium, I was invigorated by working with students and discussing the impact that they can have on the world’s entire future. Alec and I (we co-keynoted the event) talked about some of the implications of their actions on the Internet and how they have three directions for the impact that they will make in the world: negative, neutral, or positive. Instead of the idea of sharing horror stories of what can happen on the Internet, we wanted to show the students that as long as they can stay safe, they can have a huge (positive) impact on the world. We shared examples of people using social media to improve the world (such as the “Free the Children” organization) and challenged them to try to do something “big” to better their world.
This quote from the “Butterfly Effect” shares what we are able to do with social networking tools to better our world:
“Although social networking tools are widely used to incite action, the people who have used them most effectively have one thing in common: a laser-like focus….citizens rallying against guerrillas, a once-voiceless population protesting for women’s rights—each started small, with a few people and a goal.” Smith and Aaker, The Dragonfly Effect
Inadvertently, as Alec and I finished off the presentation last night, we had left the last slide blank with only a white background. As we talked, we thought that this was the way we wanted to end the presentation with the students. Often when presenting, we work to leave participants with a final, lingering quote that we hope will inspire action. The thought here was that the inspiration for the last slide needs to come from our kids in what they do moving forward. Too often we work to inspire our students when really, we need to give them the space to let them inspire us. I challenged them to be the inspiration for us and help us eventually fill that last slide by doing something amazing and powerful.
How often do we give our students this opportunity in the classroom? How often do we push our students to lead and make a difference but not give them the space to make it happen? I asked the students how many have them felt that they were referred to as “just kids” and several hands (along with visibly bothered looks) raised immediately. I believe the more we trust in our students, the more likely they are too succeed.
Before the last slide, we watched this video from “Pay it Forward”, and as I sat there viewing it, the thing that hit me was that the amazing project that happened in the movie (I know it is “just” a movie…) was not done by the teacher, but by the student. The teacher just gave them the opportunity.
Let’s figure out how we can give our students the space to inspire. I am looking forward to seeing how those students fill that page.
Below is the slideshare from our our closing keynote if you are interested in looking at the slides.