One was that I had the opportunity to work with students on how they use social media and tried to help them focus on “what’s possible,” not on what you shouldn’t do. When I was introduced at one of the school’s this week, it was announced that I was going to be talking about social media and the students in unison, made a large groaning sound. I knew (and understood) why. They were expecting the “don’t do this, don’t do that” talk that they have become so accustomed to. How inspired would you be to talk about any subject if worst intentions were always assumed? Although I talk about online safety and the impact of what we do on the other side of the screen, my focus is mostly on how we use the opportunities in front of us to make the world a better place.
The students you serve right now could, at some point, be working for you, working with you, or your boss. Do you want them to make the world a better place, or just leave it as is?
This thought ties directly into the next…
As I was discussing with someone who was extremely focused on “traditional teaching” and criticizing anything new in education, they shifted the conversation to focus on how we all got into this field to “change the world”. Yet, as I thought about it, I was struck by the idea that if we really got into education to change the world, why would we gravitate to only the practices that have always been done? Is that not focused more on maintenance, then it is on making the world better?
This is very important to state as I am not an absolutist; not everything new is good, and not everything old is bad. But we do have to accept that the world is, and always will change, with or without you. Our hope is that we help our students change it for the better, not just keep it as is. I have stated this often that I hope to go beyond preparing kids for the “real world”. I want them to make the “real world” better. Many of those students I worked with this week want that exact same thing and by only focusing on what not to do, we are setting a bar for our students that is much lower than the initial impact we hoped to have when we joined the profession.
We don’t want our students to simply change the world; we want them to make it better. The best way we can help our students do that for the future is to help them see that they can make the world a much better place today.