Eric Clapton once sang a song about changing the world. Then again, his focus was on love. I will not be going that direction in this post.
This is an interesting question to ask, and one that I would occasionally pose to students in class. Think about the power of this question. If you could change the world, what would you change? In my experiences, you get some awesome and varied answers from students. Sometimes, they are silly (but remember, they are kids), but mostly, you get to really see what students value through posing this question.
This can also lead to some fun projects. When I would do genius hour with a group (or 20% time, whatever you call it), I would use the “what would you change about the world” as a starting point for their projects.
However, through all of this, I never answered the question myself. Honestly, I really feel I should be swimming in the same pool as my kids, and if I asked this question of them I should’ve answered it myself. So here goes:
If I could change the world, I would change our inability to see the other side of the argument. This might be the biggest problem we have in the world. People tend to dig in their heels and stick to their own viewpoint, not even considering that the other side might have some validity. After all, if someone believes in something strongly, they probably have a good reason. I want to see more understanding and more thoughtfulness when it comes to discussing out ideas. As I discussed in a conversation with the brilliant Andrew Stillman today, this type of discourse is paramount to a democratic society.
So this is my goal in education. Yes, I’m a “technology guy”, but my goal with utilizing technology is to make the world my students live in a little flatter. My hope is that experiencing more cultures, more viewpoints, and more ideas will help them to reflect on their own and allow them to engage in more respectful conversations. How could a student in an urban environment possibly know the struggles of living in a small town, and vice versa? You can read about it all you want, but until you are exchanging those experiences with someone else who is living it, and you put yourself in a state of mind to understand them where they are, you can’t possibly understand.
By connecting students to other students and adults in different cities, cultures, and professions, I hope to achieve this goal and change the world.
I encourage you to engage in some moonshot thinking, and truly consider (and ask your students!) what you would do if you could change the world.