THE BLOG
04/11/2013 03:10 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2013

When Students Say They Want to Change the World -- Listen to Them!

If we are to reach real peace in this world...
We shall have to begin with children.
Mahatma Gandhi

Most conversations about changing the world are met with skepticism, cynicism and despair. Audacious solutions degenerate into "yeah but" and "I would if" before steering into something more practical or pressing.

That's because in most discussions related to solving big problems and creating revolutionary change, young people are not invited to contribute.

Despite all of the money we spend on education and the hours of their lives students spend in school, little of the conversation is driven by what they think, need and envision.

That Is About to Change.

For the past 11 months, students in more than 1,500 schools and 6,000 classrooms have been asking, answering and acting on the following questions.

What Breaks Your Heart About Our World?

As the begin to ponder it, I add this question:

What Are We Going to Do About It?

Given only one hour a week, which we now call #GeniusHour, students across the globe ponder, explore, collaborate and work to take action on their thoughts and ideas.

To date, these young activist world-change agents and fearless leaders have tackled problems and topics that range from:

  • Building a library for a rural village in Ghana;
  • raising money to build wells for communities without water;
  • starting and scaling non-profit organizations to support issues in education, the environment and other social causes and
  • developing innovative approaches to supporting others in crisis.

I stand in amazement at the depth and breadth of our young people. They have a way of looking at the world that gives me hope and excitement. It is a way of seeing the world that can make the pivotal difference in the outcome of our future.

In our year together, new questions have emerged from the #GeniusHour conversations.

Questions that can not only guide our work, but the work of the world:

  • What does the world need help with most?
  • What kind of genius will it take?
  • What do we begin working on first?
  • How do we discover what is being done so we can offer help?
  • Where can we share our contributions and ideas?
  • What does the world need from us?

This being the most important of all: What took you so long to ask us? We are the ones the world has been waiting for!

Students are willing to not only be the change we need; they are willing to lead the change. They are not asking for permission. They are asking for respect. They want to express their passions in meaningful ways. They want to show the world that in spite of their years, they are a force to reckon with.

Leading me to my closing thought:

Listen to children. Invite them to the table. Hear their ideas. Respect their perspective. Believe they matter and can make a difference in the world.

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