The Ripple Effect
One of my favorite ways of learning is through storytelling. It helps me retain information and things I need to remember or memorize and is more resonant with my natural way of learning which is experiential. As you read these words, please take yourself back into your experiences in school. Were they positive? Did you feel supported? Do you feel like your education equipped you with actual skills you currently earn money with? Most people I have posed this question to reply that no, their education was neither nurturing, supportive and the real kicker they do not utilize the skills learned in K-12 education AND 4-year college to earn money. When I posed these questions to myself it became clearer to me that starting in sixth grade I became a totally disinterested student. I was checked out and not trying at all to engage my education from 6th grade until the junior year of high school when a mentor proverbially grabbed me by the ear and told me to attend his newly approved double-period experiential education class. He sold me on it by telling me that during my project time I would be allowed to leave the campus! That was all I was after, a chance to leave the walls I felt trapped by and the education that despite the repeated efforts of many wonderful teachers, I was utterly disinterested in. At this time I stopped engaging in the competitive sports I was talented in, was invoking a host of destructive behaviors and creating a path to nowhere land. My family life was volatile and I was escaping into the comfortable feel of my friends I identified with. Then came along this experiential learning opportunity. After classes on how to engage this learning style we were then given one hundred percent licence to create any project we wanted. For some reason that makes much more sense now, I decided I wanted to make a short film about midwifery. What fifteen year old wants to make a movie about midwifery??? I made a plan, identified the resources available to me, went about learning screenplay writing, film producing and editing and definitely failing many many times along the way. I will never forget the number of hours of editing alone that I had to put in to complete the project. Needless to say I really got to know the late-night security guards and the confines of the film editing studio at my high school! I will also never forget the pure joy of the doctors and nurses I interviewed that a fifteen year old wanted to learn about midwifery and birth and the cheers of my peers when I showed my final fifteen-minute movie. The look on my mentor’s’ face said everything—pride & love. It was a moment that would forever shape my education and mission in this world. I do believe we have a responsibility to provide the opportunities given to us for others. Let us create the learning experiences for the youth of today that will empower them to create their vision of the future. Let us identify the many different ways of learning and create those experiences in addition to the traditional model. Let us work together to support those students who need a different approach to their learning—we don’t know how far the ripples will go!