In a vodcast I recorded last week with Gary Bencheghib (Founder of Make a Change World – Hi Gary, you are AWESOME!), we discussed the concept that ‘there is no idea too wild if it makes the world a better place.’ Love it! There is a challenge in that statement. A world-changing idea doesn’t need to be off-the-wall wild – in fact, many of the solutions to current problems are quite simple. But, to create significant change – to solve environmental issues, to right the wrongs of social injustice, to reinvent an education system – we really need to throw the gates open to new, innovative, intelligent, compassionate… and WILD ideas. Or do we fumble-stumble through life believing we can have no impact? Do we think up creative solutions to real-world problems or awesome new ideas to enhance learning experiences, but throw them aside when the idea becomes too wild?
Quitting a life at sea, sailing beautiful yachts around paradise, so connected to nature in all her force and beauty, basically living my dream… to become a Science/Maths teacher – that raised a few eyebrows. When teaching in an Australian government school, I designed an integrated Sustainability unit – where sixty Grade 8’s went off the normal schedule for a term. Wild idea.
When I decided not to move from my Science degree to a post-grad Medicine degree – opting for a year at a Health and Environment NGO in Orissa, India, as my gap-year jump into the real world of sustainable development, (the idea doesn’t actually seem that crazy now) back then – it was definitely a ‘Get Lost Education’ moment. Wild idea. I moved away to school and at age 15 I rented a house with a uni-student – managing myself through those teenage years and my Grade 10-12 education. Wild idea. Quit work-life for a year to write novels. Tick. Done. Wild.
Sailing a beautiful boat around paradise and then quitting that life to become a teacher… wild idea.
In my classrooms, the lessons I loved the most – and, more importantly, that my students loved the most – were the lessons that allowed students to input ideas on what they wanted to learn and how they wanted to demonstrate their learning. It was important that students trusted that their ideas (as out-of-the-box as you want) were taken seriously by me. Diving into class research on a tangent idea – Yes! Allowing students to write and perform a rap for their final assessment. Yes!
In terms of learning program design, Green School Bali (GSB) has too many examples of ‘wild ideas’ that became stand-out Green School magic. The Bio Bus project takes used-cooking oil and runs our school buses. We wanted a Recycling centre as part of our school – so we built the KemBali, Green School’s very own waste management system. Standing up for Gender Equity is important to us – every February 14th, we celebrate V-Day where the entire Green School community comes together to raise their voice against gender inequalities. Our Kul-Kul Connection program provides ‘ELL through Sustainability Education’ to 300+ local Balinese students. Students doing Ted-talk style presentations (a graduation requirement for Gr 8 and Gr 12) in front of 600+ people, live-streamed… wild idea. Opening up the learning program to new, innovative, integrated units – this is happening all the time. When John Hardy told me to build a bridge across the river (a real bridge across a real river) in my MS Maths classes… wild idea. Done! When two sisters wanted to ban single-use plastic bags, we helped them create Bye Bye Plastic Bags. In fact, Green School Bali was once just a wild idea of John and Cynthia Hardy (and every day I am grateful for making the idea a reality). Point made.
We all have the potential to be changemakers. Changemakers come in all shapes and sizes – from our youngest students to our graduating seniors, from huge ideas that can change the world, to personal ideas that make a change to an individual’s life. If schools aren’t places that respect student ideas, then young adults leave 12-years of formal schooling without any chance to plant and grow their own seeds of wild ideas. If schools aren’t places that promote revolutionary ideas to change education, then education will not change – and it needs to.
So I wonder … What would the world be like if everyone (I mean, EVERY PERSON ON THIS PLANET) lived to make the world a better place? Wow! When you think about it, the idea is mind blowing; all humans living in ways that make the world better. Massive! OK… so, are you ready to really have your mind blown? Contemplate why that question is so mind blowing – why is that such a wild idea? I mean, really… consider the inverse alternative: all people live to make the world a worse place. That doesn’t work. I don’t even like writing it.
The illusion that we have no choice, that we have no say, that the wild idea you have to make the world a better place is too wild to make happen – it’s just an illusion. We need future generations to understand and experience that there is no idea too wild if it’s going to make the world a better place.