Please Share My Passion For Education!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Coolest Thing I Have Ever Seen.

The Coolest Thing I Have Ever Seen

As an educator that is passionate about education, passionate about altruism, passionate about preparing students for the real world, passionate about empowering students, and passionate about helping create a better future,  I have often wondered what I need to do to help these dreams come true.

Finally, after about 10 years, I feel that I understand how to help make this happen.

I experienced Kindergarten through High School, probably in much the same format all of us (including our grandparents) did.  I went to college and they "taught me how to teach kids".  They taught me about classroom discipline models, best practices, etc...  I earned my Masters' Degree in Education in the same manner. It all seemed simple; follow the formula that has worked forever and all will be great.  After 10 years of teaching, though, I didn't feel like all was great.

I decided to use some introspect and value my own beliefs instead of conforming to the "Status Quo".  I found that I had some strong values and beliefs that I was not acting upon:

1.  People can develop empathy.  I think that learning "perspective" is difficult.  It is tough for anyone to truly envision themselves in someone else's shoes.  I do think, however, that this is something that can be learned and developed.

2.  People can learn altruism.  I think that when someone develops empathy and a sense of perspective, they will naturally become more altruistic.  The problem, however, is that students often do not understand how to act upon their altruistic mindset.  I think it should be the schools that help them to find issues in the world and direct ways they can take action that they believe in.

3.  Kids are AWESOME.  I think that our society drastically underestimates kids.  I really think that they are more intelligent, creative, passionate, and capable than we give them credit for being.  Our only way of "measuring" this (as if it needs to be measured) is to see how good they are doing in school.  Unfortunately this is not a great reflection of their awesomeness.  Our educational system has tunnel vision.  It is concerned with one type of intelligence, which we call IQ, and cares more about conformity than compassion.

4.  If kids are awesome, we need to EMPOWER them.  Honestly.  Empower them.  I look back at the worksheets, Styrofoam models, "hypothetical" problems and projects that I have had the students do over the years.  They all end up in the garbage.  They do not help the world become a better place.  They do not empower students to be altruistic "game-changers".  Why can't we let our students use their passions, skills, talents, creativity, and drive to change the world during the school day?  If we would adopt this philosophy, I guarantee we would see an enormous amount of positive change in the world including innovation, cures to things we cannot figure out, and a brighter future.

5.  I am not an expert in everything that students are passionate about.  OH NO!!!! A couple years back it hit me that I am not even an expert in the subjects I am teaching.  My main topic is Life Science or Biology.  I teach every unit in this and, essentially, I am "jack of all trades..... master of none".  There are real experts out there that dedicate their life work to a much more focused area of study.  I started to wonder whether I was an expert in anything.  .......I am.

6.  I am an expert in Learning.  I am an expert in caring about students futures.  I am a LIFELONG LEARNER.  I think it is possible I like learning as much as anyone on the planet.  I do not claim to know everything (or even very much for that matter), but I love to learn new things.  

7.  I need to teach students to LEARN.  Aha.  I don't need to teach students biology.  In fact the fine details about the Kreb's Cycle, mitosis, and phospholipid bilayers will not have any impact on about 99.99% of the students' lives.  If I can help them LEARN HOW TO LEARN and how to access a plethora of information via the internet, I will essentially have taught them EVERYTHING (including Biology).

8.  I need to stop being the SAGE on the STAGE.  I cannot sit and stand in front of these kids every day and tell them what they should think is important, the style they should learn in, the information I know and why I know it, etc....  

9.  I need to be the GUIDE by THEIR SIDE.  They do not need a dictator.  Many of them do not need a strong commanding leader.  They need a new type of leader.  They need someone that will:  
Sit by their side and help them to learn anything and everything they want to learn.  
Help them brainstorm ways to learn better.
Help them brainstorm ways they can apply their learning
Lobby for them.
Bring in experts for them to connect with
Find ways for them to get out into the community
Get them "hands-on" experience
Inspire them to be passionate
Inspire them to be compassionate
Inspire them to be Lifelong Learners
Inspire them to be ALTRUISTIC CITIZENS

10.  I need to TRUST students more.  Help them develop integrity.  Help them change the world.

What do you think?  What do you believe?  Search inside yourself.  What do you value?  How can you incorporate this into making education more effective and the world a better place?

I titled this post "The Coolest Thing That I Have Ever Seen" because over the past two years, I have seen this all in action.  I have seen children change the world, during the school day.  I have been part of a program that has partnered with over 100 community partners and provide opportunities for our students.

The coolest project that I have seen develop is the ChangeXChange.

Over the years I have had many students that wanted to go ABOVE & BEYOND, but school never provided those opportunities for them.  I, unfortunately, will admit that we didn't seem to concerned about them because they had a "98%" in our class (whatever that means).....and they were not a distraction.

This year I had a couple students approach me about their desire to CHANGE THE WORLD.  They had the opportunity to be altruistic leaders in some projects in our program, but they wanted to do more.  They told me that they believe there are millions of students around the world that want to do the same, but do not have the opportunity or the attention to do so.  They wanted to unite and create a group that would give these students a voice and empower them to change the world.

They have put in 100's of extra hours to develop a student leadership group.  They called it the ChangeXchange.  They brought to my attention that with the improvements in technology: Google Documents, Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, Gmail, Blogs, Social Media, etc......that there are no borders or boundaries to students connecting.  The work that these students, Danielle and Lauren, have put in, and their unselfish desire to help other people and change the world, has inspired me to be a better person and to truly believe that if given autonomy & guidance, students can change the world!

These students have created social media accounts, a blog,website, etc. & want to put their dream in action. They want to unite student leaders from around the world, collaborate with them, change the world with them, and help them be recognized for their AWESOMENESS.

Now they need these members to unite.  They already have students from several states.  They also have students form Canada, and Hong Kong that have united.  Their goal is NOT a simple one.  They want to unite thousands of students around the world that wants to change the world.

That is outrageous.
They are only kids.
That is crazy.
This would change the world.

I have 100% faith that they can do it.

I have 100% faith that they will do it.

My job.......  be the "guide by the side".  Let them lead.  Clear obstacles from their path.  Help connect them with more students, teachers, leaders, change-agents, experts.

Your job.  Please, please, please..... help these students change the world.  They do not want the credit for starting it....they just want the dream to happen.  Can you introduce motivated students to this opportunity, can you provide expertise, can you help break down walls and clear obstacles, can you offer advice, can you give feedback.  

The group is currently looking for 9th - 11th grade students who want to go above and beyond and help change the world.  The hope is that this group will then add middle school students (and hopefully elementary school students) who they can mentor and collaborate with.

There are no obligations for students that join.  It is not meant to be and added stress as we know everyone is busy.  It is a stress-free way for students to connect, share their stories, share their ideas, ask for help, and collaborate to change the world.

If you know of a good candidate, want to help out, or want to check it out..... visit:

Twitter = @21xchange
Facebook =


Oliver Schinkten
"I Love Learning"


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  3. Oliver, we are kindred spirits. In the last two years I have moved my Grade 5 classes closer to this model. I walk beside them as they lead. I support them as they take up challenges. I have moved away from traditional teaching to more exploration of their interests. I still teach the curriculum, just not as overtly as in the past. I have proven that every child can improve themselves, take a focus and be empathetic.

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