Landlocked in the middle of Missouri surrounded by farmland – watching the oil spill from afar, all I have felt to this point is helpless. I watch the news on television, read about it on the web – incredulous. How could this large-scale environmental problem be happening? Why do I have to sit here and feel condemned to watch it, feeling helpless and angry?
What could I possibly do to help? Donate cotton? Give hair? Is giving hair even doing anything anyhow?
Inspiration sometimes comes from unexpected places.
At ISTE 2010, I came expecting to feel inspired about education and technology. Environmental issues seemed to be on the back burner, at least in my little brain.
However, global issues have been a theme at the conference this year, beginning with the kickoff keynote. While this address was not the best in terms of actual presentation value, the message was clear – we have large global issues that are currently not being solved. Where does change need to start? Education.
The keynote itself didn’t inspire me to great acts. It only got me thinking, ” I know we have serious global issues, and I know education is a key, and social networks should play a role” but I left feeling as if the keynote answered nothing.
In Will Richardson’s session yesterday morning, an overarching theme of the presentation was that small actions, especially when using the vehicle of social media, can create big changes. Will provided several specific instances, some coming from his own life, some from students, some from the “interwebs” in general, where he demonstrated how one person could make a difference or be a catalyst for change.
One of the most familiar examples to me is this video, “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See.” Not only is this a video created by a high school science teacher in his classroom, it is a video that has been viewed over 7,500,000 times, and has even led to a book deal for its creator, Greg Craven. The real power here is not what I just stated, but the fact that this video about a pertinent issue, global warming, was created by one man, and through the power of social media, his message has spread globally.
Another example that Will gave was the recent Facebook groups that have formed in response to the oil disaster. The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Volunteer group on Facebook, again, designed by one person, now has over 13,000 members. The group works to mobilize in response to the oil spill – where can we be to help with cleanup, how can we help rescue, how can we just provide support?
My husband understands what the power of one can do – through his classroom networks, he is constantly engaging students in discussion – discussions that truly have a global audience. He has recently developed a forum for his Marine Biology students to discuss the impacts of the oil spill, and these students are not only learning about the disaster in an effective way, but their responses are being viewed by people all over the world.
Too often I feel like the power of one means nothing. How can I evoke any meaningful change? My vote doesn’t really count. My ideas don’t really matter – I can’t truly change anything.
But I really think we can – one of the stories I always look forward to reading with my three year old is The Lorax - my favorite line always fills me with tingles of hope – every time.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
As we read this line together, I think, “I hope she is remembering this. I hope it sinks in, settles, and grows”
Sometimes we just need a reminder.