WonderFlings – because curiosity and Wonder are to be cherished and sometimes you just have to Fling an idea out there to see how it lands! Such is the world of a lifelong learner with a need for innovation that is practical.
Though I’ve never been a traditional classroom teacher, I have been an educator most of my life. I’ve loved the times when I can work directly with youth! Primarily, though, my target is adults: helping them work with children and youth to become engaged citizens who understand how to invest their talents to improve the world around them. A couple of quotes that help explain my philosophy are:
- “None of us is as smart as all of us.” (used by Ken Blanchard in his book “One Minute Manager” but a Japanese proverb before that)
- “If we believe that youth are our future, we’re procrastinating.” was used as an email tagline by a wonderful former colleague.
I also love the quote on the Blog of Proximal Development from the document titled Te Whariki, developed by New Zealand’s government: “…a bicultural and bilingual document (English and Maori) founded on the following aspirations for children: … to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.” Though their document focuses on early childhood and most of my work centers around teachers and youth leaders of adolescents, it resonates with me, especially the “secure in their sense of belonging” part. Having just returned from a visit to New Zealand this spring, I witnessed –and was impressed by- some of that emphasis demonstrated in a traditional Maori village.
One of my life’s greatest privileges has been the opportunity to work with sincere and creative people in many parts of the world who are interested in helping youth maximize their potential. They are not satisfied to help kids succeed in school, but to engage in their community often starting with hands on civic ed, service learning, leadership development, job shadowing, community analysis, etc.. In some cases, they are part of an existing network (or at least a previously existing network since funding issues seem to put an end to many). In other cases, I have met them when I did professional development for them or served on some sort of work group. I have learned so much from these folks – about different ways of working with youth, different ways their community functions, how they use their resources and so much more. Most of the time, the connection is between me and people in one community. I would love to help connect them to each other. I sincerely believe that it would not only help them succeed better in each of their own communities, but would help advance the science of engaging youth and improving communities. Tools on the Read/Write Web are tailor-made for this!
In every community, there are kids who are somehow different, who don’t quite fit in. Often, these students are considered at-risk. In reality, though, it is our communities who are at-risk: at risk of not valuing the creative insight and problem solving abilities of these very students who we often try to force into the same mold as everyone else. They are often where the answers and innovations originate! I tell people that it is such exciting work because we are all treasure hunters, trying to uncover the buried treasure and talents of these kids who have fresh ways of looking at and experiencing the world.
So, I would like to hear from you – what do you wonder about how to help kids grow up “healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society” and what ideas do you have to fling out for helping this happen? Can’t wait to hear from you!