Iíve spent lots of time trying to determine the most effective and strategic approach to creating a healthy, just and humane world for all people, animals and the environment. Given limited time and resources and the enormous challenges we face, what is the very best way to create positive change in the world? Legislation and politics? Entrepreneurship and innovative technologies? Investigative reporting? Protest? Direct action and rescue? Making personal choices that are humane and sustainable?
I was so excited to watch The Story of Stuffís new animated video “The Story of Change,” which echoed much of what Iíve been teaching and writing about (including in my recent TEDx talk, Solutionaries). Annie Leonard, whose “Story of Stuff” video introduced millions of people to the underlying effects of our products and consumerist culture, points out that we canít buy our way out of looming catastrophes and dangerous systems of production by choosing the greener and more humane products Ė although choosing such products over those that are inhumane and toxic is a first step.
We must take action and get involved in changemaking. She invites us to consider what kind of changemaker we want to be, urging us each to get involved in the ways that matter most to us and best use our talents and skills. And because her work has become so well known, her new video will reach millions of people, igniting an even bigger changemaking movement. This is great news.
Imagine what would happen if these ideas spread, not just through the changemaking community via the Internet, but also becoming integral to the education we provide for our children. Imagine if youth grew up understanding the impacts of their choices, realized that they have the capacity to participate in changemaking, and graduated prepared to embrace their roles as solutionaries for a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
That is the goal and the work of humane education.
How do humane educators change the world? Here are the top 5 ways:
1. Humane educators provide accurate, relevant information about the challenges of our time, so that students have the knowledge to address systemic problems.
2. Humane educators foster the 3 Cs of curiosity, creativity and critical thinking, so that students have the skills necessary to generate wise and effective solutions to entrenched problems.
3. Humane educators instill the 3 Rs of reverence, respect and responsibility, so that students have the will to put their talents and passions into practice no matter what professions they pursue.
4. Humane educators offer positive choices and tools for problem-solving, so that students can enthusiastically and effectively use their knowledge, coupled with their concerns, to solve our pressing problems.
5. Humane educators foster a commitment to the 3 Is of inquiry, introspection and integrity, so that students are dedicated to lifelong learning, self-reflection and putting their values into practice in concrete and far-reaching ways that contribute to a better world for all.
There are many systems to change, as Annie Leonard and the Story of Stuff videos reveal. Our planet faces global, unprecedented and potentially catastrophic challenges. Preparing our children to be system-changers who can solve the problems of our time simply must become the goal of schooling. I believe that humane education offers the greatest hope for preventing future catastrophes and the most important root solution to solving existing challenges.
Amidst all the possibilities for being a changemaker, and as you seek to discover the best ways to put your passions and skills into practice, consider becoming a humane educator and providing others, especially youth, with the knowledge, tools, and inspiration to also become changemakers for a better world.
Interested in becoming a humane educator? There are growing opportunities to gain the skills necessary to bring humane education to people of all ages and in all settings. The Institute for Humane Education (IHE), offers online courses, workshops, and numerous free resources. In addition, IHE offers the only graduate programs in humane education in the U.S. (M.Ed. and M.A. degrees and graduate certificate), provided online and through an affiliation with Valparaiso University.
Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey via Creative Commons.