Have you heard of We.org?
I heard about this amazing movement and the story behind it in a keynote address by Craig Kielburger, co founder of Free the Children, Me to We and We Day, at the 2015 iNACOL Symposium. Kielburger's activism began at the age of 12 - when his 7th grade SS teacher set aside class plans to allow students to follow their passions. After reading a newspaper article about the death of a 12-year-old labor activist, Kielburger found his passion - to change the world! From the first fundraising success he has grown his passion to a worldwide organization and event that empowers young people to believe they can make a difference through volunteering both locally and globally.
So what does that mean for educators?
In his keynote, Craig Kielburger shared his perception of the largest problem facing our world today, the fact that we are "raising a generation of passive bystanders." To change that future he challenged each teacher by naming educators as "the most important people in the world because you have the opportunity to shape the next generation." Kielburger has gone farther than just challenging educators and schools to impact change. With the help of his organization he has also created tools and procedures to assist in making change happen.
We.org has two different ways to help.
- One branch of their organization is called We Schools. We Schools leads school organizations through the steps of figuring out a local issue to change, taking action, tracking the impact and celebrating. We Day is a national way to celebrate with students at the completion of their community service. Students 'buy' their tickets by volunteering.
- They are also partnering with AP and the College Board to add service work as part of a student's complete academic image. The plan is for AP classes to incorporate service learning into the curriculum to tie classroom learning to real world work. This would be reflected on a student's transcript.
One final thought
I was challenged to help students see themselves as "problem solvers" rather than a "problem to be solved." In a time of testing and standards and devices this may be the most important idea we can pass on to the next generation. Naming a student a problem-solver empowers them to face any situation with the knowledge that they are enough to make change happen. If we, as educators, succeed with that task - we have truly given back!
~Beth Swantz, Technology Consultant at Grant Wood AEA (@betswan)
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