This is a message I have been sharing with students for the past few years, as instant access across the globe has become easier each day. If you truly think about it, the technology that we have today is the worst that it is going to be from this day forward. We lament that the iPhone 6 Plus is not that much better than the iPhone 6, but considering how far along the iPhone has come from its original iteration, or even existing at all, it is pretty amazing to see what has developed in such a short amount of time.
Yet when it comes to technology, what do we focus on with our students? We talk about things such as “digital citizenship” and “cyberbullying” that more of our focus is on what they shouldn’t do, not necessarily what they could and should do.
Take for example, the WestHighBros Twitter account. This is a student that saw cyberbullying in his school and what did he decide? Not that he wouldn’t bully others, but the opposite; that he would lift them out. Jeremiah Anthony, the student that first started the account, started complimenting students in his school. Not only did he make a positive impact, but in fact, he totally changed trajectories for some:
While standing in the pizza line during lunch one day, Anthony was surprised to receive a hug from a classmate. Caugh off guard, Anthony asked why she was hugging him. With tears in her eyes, the young girl looked at Anthony and said “I was going to kill myself, but I saw your compliment to me on my Facebook page and I realized how dumb it’d be to kill myself and that I do have worth and people to care about me.”
Her story isn’t unique. “Unfortunately — or maybe fortunately — that’s happened numerous times,” said Anthony. He has heard story by story of students who are so encouraged by the simple words of kindness they receive from @Westhighbros that they are convinced suicide is not the answer. (Foster, 2013)
He decided that this media is a way for us to not only make a difference locally (in his own school), but this account inspired students (and adults) around the world to use technology in a way to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
Start local, impact global.
We need to shift the focus from developing the leaders of tomorrow, to developing our students as the leaders of today. There is too much time spent on talking about the possibilities of tomorrow, without focusing on the access that all of us has to make a positive impact. One of my favourite quotes is from a good friend Shelley Wright who says, “Kids often defy expectations if you give them the opportunity.” If we want to ensure a better tomorrow, let’s help our students lead today. Seems like a much better way to guarantee the positive future that can be created.
(If you have never seen this video, please check it out below, and PLEASE share it with your students. We need to put these ideas in front of our students.”