I always wanted to change the world.
That was my goal:
“What are you going to do Mike?”
“I’m going to change the world?”
Ridiculous. Respectable, but ridiculous. The world, as I’ve learned through travelling it, is a great, big, wonderful, awful and amazing place. One person cannot change the world – there’s too much world to go around. Even monumental events don’t change the world. The printing press didn’t change the world – humans use of printing press slowly contributed to the destination of knowledge, which had a significant impact on the world. The internet didn’t change the world – the internet gave a forum for the free exchange of information and allowed (for better or for worse), anyone connected to the internet to consume and contribute to a vast collective of knowledge and opinion. 9/11 didn’t change the world – it changed the way we travel, it changed the lives of millions of Americans and how they view their safety, it changed the lives of millions of Afghanis and Iraqis whose lives were abruptly altered through the retaliation of the West. Even big events don’t change the world, but they do start the breeze blowing in all sorts of directions. Sometimes that breeze is gentle and felt only by a few and sometimes that breeze builds into a hurricane that effects all those in its path. How can on person change the world? They can’t. They can only start the wind a blowin’.
I’ve had a lot of careers. I’ve donned white collars and blue collars. I’ve gone grassroots and I’ve sold out. After it all though, nothing and I mean nothing, comes close to making me feel like I can cause a little wind to stir than working in education.
If you are an educator like me, hopefully you know what I’m talking about. You know the feeling of seeing a small spark start within your students and colleagues. Is the spark enough to light a fire? I don’t think it’s our role to see that through; we don’t start the fire, but if we’re lucky we show our students how to gather the wood.
I will admit my ambitions remain lofty, as does my optimism. I will continue to try to “be the change” as cliche as I’m sure that might sound to many…many who aren’t interested in being the change that is. The question I ask myself over and over again is – does our role as educators, within the prevalent systems of education, allow us, or our students to spark that fire? Or do we just show our students the light switch instead? Worse – do we keep our students in the dark?
We are in the business of helping to create a better future – like it or not, on some scale this is possible. We are responsible then, for questioning the systems of education that prevail. For pushing the boundaries of how people define learning. For not being content with the bureaucracy that often stifles true learning, despite its best intentions. For not becoming cynical. For not changing the world, but at least trying to give it a push in the right direction.
This space will look at some ways that we can disrupt our thinking. How we can help our students become agents of change through methods that might not be conventional, popular or even logical.
In 2008 KRS One said “Goin to school/ not for nuttin’ they teachin lies and assumptions/And they tell us keep comin’/comin’ to school now for what?”
Let’s give our students are reason to want to come to school. Let’s give ourselves a reason to keep trying to change the world.