Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Asking "Them" to Do Something

I was honored to give the keynote address to our National Honor Society Inductees last year. In preparing for this talk, I soon realized that I would be speaking to the best students in my school. I had 10 minutes to impart any kind of wisdom that would help them as they start on their journey into adulthood. I decided on two themes.

First, I talked about "them". By "them" I mean the really smart people who are we are banking on fixing our nation's problems. You know who they are. "They" are going to cure cancer someday. "They" are going to fix our national debt, or create technology that will give us all universal health care. "They" are those smart people that will fix things in time. This metaphysical pool of innovators and scientists who magically come up with a fix for global warming, or fossil fuel energy depletion.

Here's the kicker. I was talking to the top 5% of the students in my school. My school is known across the state of Iowa as a premier school district in terms of test scores, college admission, completion, and success of students. Iowa has been known as one of the premier states in which to go to high school. I was talking to "Them" directly. Students need to realize that they can not wait for someone to solve these problems. They are "Them".

It was an eye-opener for me as well as them (pun intended). It reaffirmed my responsibility as a teacher. I can not just teach to the middle student, or try to bring kids to a minimum level of achievement. I needed to push the high end kid, challenge them, and develop in them a confidence to take chances and innovate.

I then showed the following video.

This Internet Phenom is known lovingly as Star Wars Kid. This young man took his love of Darth Maul, his camera, and some killer karate moves to produce the aforementioned video. I say, "Great Job, Star Wars Kid!" This young man did something. He developed this video and shared it with the world. He took the time to make something, anything, and shared it. If you google this video, you will find that many others have taken this video and added sound, and lightsaber effects, and slow motion timelines. Star Wars Kid has 27,165,682 hits on youtube. He has inspired others to work on their editing skills with his video. Star Wars Kid has become a leader. 

Urge kids to do SOMETHING. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it contributes to our public knowledge. I have found that I am most happy when I am creating something. Write that novel, learn that instrument, make that blog, or video post. Put your heart into something and share it with others. When you have completed something worthwhile, can put your name on it, and take what comes, you will find that others will follow. Nothing can be more fulfilling or worthwhile. 

I urge all who read this to do the same. Principals, teachers, students, parents, all of you can find amazing things happen when you put yourself out there. Start small if you are not comfortable. Join a conversation on twitter, or reply to this blog. Soon you will find yourself leading chats, or creating them from scratch. 

As always, your comments here are a welcomed way to start.