Here’s How We Get Things Done!

Yesterday, it snowed. I was supposed to go to an event–Choose2Matter Live, hosted at East Greenwich High School. I was excited, because the event is right up our alley–Genius Hour for two days straight resulting in things that really matter and continue into–real life. Because guess what–school is–and should be–real life. 

This year’s been all about themes that affect the world. We’ve talked about real world needs, and we’ve seen teens making a difference on the world stage. If you’re just reading a book and regurgitating information, guess what–you’re not making a change. Sure, we need to learn the fundamentals so we can apply them to stuff that matters. That’s the whole goal here. So, the next thing we’ll study is education throughout the world. 

Critical Questions: 

What’s school for? Seth Godin asks this in his TEDxYouth talk. 

Have schools, in fact, killed creativity? World-renown author, speaker and expert Sir Ken Robinson asks this question. Since he’s been knighted by the Queen, we should probably listen. If you enjoyed Sir Ken, here’s a bonus–a whiteboard anamation saying we must change the way we think about education. 


If the media and society is so up in arms about education in the US, we need to dig deeper, asking ourselves the questions

  • Is education so bad in the US? After all, we do educate everyone. Even though our “scores” might not match other countries, are they valid comparisons? Are we testing all our students? Are they? Are the tests equivalent? Maybe so, but never believe the media.
  • Where can we improve and how should we do it? How should schools look in this nation?
  • Should we have a national curriculum so that every student in the US gets the same chance? Or should local schools decide what to teach independently?

How’s the rest of the world doing? Really?

  • Which countries value education the most?
  • Do other countries offer free education for all citizens?
  • How do other countries rank against us?

The Big Questions: 

  • How does the fact you can get an answer to a question about China from a student in China, in real time, change the way we educate?
  • You wanted to get rid of the textbooks? And replace them with what?
  • Information is available about everything at any time. What skills do we teach to process this?
  • How will you use all this in your real life and change the world?

These are the questions we’ll be asking. Any one of them is big enough. All of them together is the beginning of a reflection about what education means to us, and how schools can make that happen. 

Utopia or Dystopia

Let’s face it, you’ve got it pretty good. You’re sitting there with your iPhone with the world at your fingertips. You eat every day, you don’t have to wait in line for bread, and somehow you got to school–in your car or on the big yellow bus. The government doesn’t assign you a job, and it doesn’t tell you what you have to be.

We’ve looked at dystopian literature.

Mission: Apply your piece to one nation in the world, past or present. Convince us to vacation there. Show the features that align with The Hunger Games and your particular chosen piece. Make it presentation-worthy. It’ll be put on display.

If you succeed, you will be rewarded with extra bread. If you fail…learn to spell “Solzhenitsyn.” You’re going to the Gulag.

Can You Make the World Healthier?

“Miss, I never go to the doctor,” he said. He’d been sick for a while. Weeks. I was torn between my natural inclination to be concerned and the fact that every time he came into the room I thought he was going to infect me and I’d, die, too.

“Go! You’re sick.”

“I can’t. I don’t have health insurance. and she’s not taking a shift off from work. When I’m sick, my mom gives me Sudafed. For everything. It don’t matter what…Sudafed, and ‘Go to school.'”

We’ve been discussing the impact of major health issues. Some people talked about health policy on the world stage, and things that hit closer to home.

Here are four critical issues:

1. Global health: In this article, we see how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is trying to combat malaria, a mosquito-bourne illness that affects many of the world’s poorest tropical regions.

What are some health problems that plague people who NGOs are trying to solve?

  • AIDS
  • Clean water
  • Family Planning and childbirth
  • Hunger and famine
  • Injuries from landmines
  • …and many, many more

2. Insurance: With the recent controversy over “Obamacare” the nation has at least started the dialog of insurance for all. Is this insurance a good thing? Will small businesses fail to hire employees because of the cost burden? Will it finally get coverage for the nation’s least protected? This Washington Post “Fact Checker” breaks it down. Will you be one of the 23M Americans–7% who will be using Obamacare?

What is insurance anyway?

  • Insurance spreads risk. For example, you can’t afford a car accident. Trust me. The insurance company charges you an amount every month. On a good month, your car’s in one piece and they keep the money. On a bad month, they pay you for your damages. It’s sort of like gambling at Foxwoods. But far less fun, because the only time you win the jackpot is in some kind of disaster, like an accident, a fire, or a major health problem. Trust me–you’d rather complain about insurance prices than need to use them.
  • Insurance assigns risk. That means that they charge you based on your risk. Riskier people cost insurance more money.
  • Insurance protects you from large disasters. This is important, because one hospitalization can ruin a family financially.
  • Insurance indemnifies. That means it pays you to put back in the same position you started out… it’s not supposed to be a financial victory.
  • The Affordable Healthcare Act allows for preexisting conditions. In other words, if you were sick before, you can not be excluded from getting healthcare. This is a big thing.

3. Local healthcare issues:  Is there a difference in healthcare quality or accessibility? Do certain geographic regions have certain problems? Can we work together to solve local, national, or global healthcare issues?

What types of things are important to society locally and globally?

  • Researching for cures
  • Funding for initiatives
  • Prioritization

You might find there’s a lot to think about here. Maybe we can’t solve the problems of the world, but we can keep our eyes open for problems we can solve, then innovate solutions for them. This is what the best of the best do. It’s what separates YOU from the rest.