If You Aren’t Making it Better, You Might Be Making it Worse

This is going to be a rather short post, but I have been thinking something in the document Play For a Change which mentions two views of children- one where we are waiting for them to be adults, and one where they are fully functioning and valuable members of society already. I think I used to think the former (you are learning to be a well balanced happy adult), until I realized that I am still learning to be a well balanced happy adult (and to be fair I know plenty of adults who are less balanced and unhappier than children I know).

Simultaneously, I have been annoyed at the once a year charity blitz that I see in December, all of a sudden the homeless need coats? They didn’t need coats in November? They won’t need more coats in January? And I am so guilty of this, off I go writing checks at the end of the year, and somehow that is enough?

And then, I saw an episode of Chopped with chefs who work in soup kitchens, and one of the contestants said something along the lines of “Cooking is my passion, and I want to use my passion to help others.”

Kids are fully functioning members of society+service and care for others should be a habit not an annual tradition+ we should use our passions to serve= WHY AREN’T WE ACTIVELY TEACHING HOW TO USE OUR PASSIONS TO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER RIGHT NOW IN REAL TIME?

Hence, giving projects were born. My kindergarten team mobilized and we contacted area charities that serve homeless animals, sick children and adults, the elderly, the homeless, and UNICEF. Each teacher took a charity close to their heart, and kids from all classes signed up for one of the charities based on their passion. Every Friday we meet for an hour or so and do work. For UNICEF, kids are making bracelets and notecards to sell for a fundraiser. We are making toys for animals in shelters, we are collecting and sorting donations for several organizations that provide for the homeless, we are making things like mobiles and sun catchers to hang in the children’s wing of a hospital. We are cleaning up trash on the streets around our school.

You know what else we are doing? Authentic reading and writing. We had to read the directions to make the dog toys, we had to read the list of things the homeless need, we read all the things our money could do for UNICEF. We wrote letters to tell others what we were collecting, we wrote to-do lists for getting our toys made, we made signs, we wrote cards. We do math! Counting and organizing, sorting and grouping. And most importantly, we talk. We talk about why charities exist in the first place. We talk about how and why animals might end up in shelters. We talk about how we are trying to make it better now, but one day we might be able to fix the whole problem.

When Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” she didn’t specify an age.

I know there are schools that make this a focus, and I know that there are teachers that make this a focus, but why can’t we just make this a focus for everyone everywhere. My kids are still going to learn to read and write, but more importantly, they are going to build a habit of care and giving.

I am horrified by our country right now. Trump, really? The fact that a  racist and misogynistic man can garner any support means we are doing it all wrong. Teachers helped make the people that want to vote for Trump. Live like your classroom is the world, make it better. Good enough isn’t good enough anymore.

Please, share how you are changing the world, one classroom at a time in the comments below.

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6 thoughts on “If You Aren’t Making it Better, You Might Be Making it Worse

  1. We are lucky enough to be within a half block of a senior living facility. It makes it easy to walk over and share everything including stories, artwork,music, small gifts, and even just simple things like a smile or touch of a hand. Some classes visit occasionally and some have buddies. It’s truly a win,win. We also have a garden and the food is donated to a food bank. On a more global scale, we participate in a grassroots group called Partners in Conservation sponsored by the Columbus Zoo. Kids make bookmarks, write letters, etc. to children in Rwanda, and raise money to help buy the materials in Rwanda that the people need to build schools.
    Having a real purpose helps engage the most reluctant learner, doesn’t it? The fact is that most all of us want to know there is a reason and purpose for our work, no matter how old we are.

  2. Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    Last week I shared some of the wisdom of Jackie French, including these wise words: “Let us give our children role models who do not, will not despair, no matter how long it takes to change the world. And let us never surrender, no matter how tired we are, or how long it takes. Because with these weapons we shape the future of our planet.”

    When I read this post I thought, “Here is someone putting it into action”. What wonderful ideals this school and these children are working towards. A great example for all.

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