“Making a Difference”

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So much happened today!!

First off, we had our first Consultivation (consult + innovation) today. Our Consultivations are adVentures where members of the community come to the ID cohort asking for help with a real problem they are struggling with, and we help take them through a DT challenge to prototype solutions. Today we were helping the MVPS philanthropy team with their problem about trying to find a way to thank donators in a cheap but meaningful way. We came up with some neat ideas about ways to have the donators form connections with students so that they can see how their money is being put to good use. For example, each donor could have a student or two that they “adopt” and over the years they get pieces of work such as art or written stories from the student along with some pictures and maybe an email or two. This way the connection to the user would be stronger because we learned that people really feel appreciated when they see the full impact of who they are helping, plus it could make the student work feel more meaningful.

Second, ID is really making progress with our coVenture to redesign our studio. Today we finished the prototypes finally! (Well I would like to get my ferris wheel contraption a little bit better, but the general overview of it is there.) Each of the 3 teams also gave a practice pitch as a way to communicate with the rest of the cohort as to what their thoughts are. The goal for Monday  is to do a range finder to help figure out what decisions we actually want to do! It’s exciting!!!!

Third, Kat and I had a 15 minute google hangout (a little bit longer due to some technical issues, but this wouldn’t have been possible without technology so I can’t say I’m completely frustrated with it) with a 9th grade cohort at All Saints Episcopal School and Grant Lichtman in Texas. It was really cool to get to connect with some students doing similar work to us here at MVPS. I would say over the past few months, Kat and I have become more of a present online and with in our community, but most of the people we have connected with have been adults. We’ve been wanting to connect with students and it was really great that Mr. Lichtman could help make that connection for us.

I’m going to be completely honest and say, I don’t know a ton about this group of students or even this school in general. What I do know is that this cohort is about to start diving DEEPer into things that they are passionate about. Kat and I kind of made the assumption that they are at about where we were back in the fall with not quite knowing how to go about finding what they are passionate about, and I think this was accurate.

They asked some great questions, and the truth is that I hadn’t even thought about it much, so I was even surprised with some of my answers. The biggest thing that clicked for me was when someone talked about how they don’t always have to solve a problem (even though problems are just opportunities in disguise); sometimes you may just want to enhance your skills at something like playing an instrument. Then someone else added a question/comment about how you deal with the pressure of everyone wanting for you to “make a difference”.

I thought these were great points because I know exactly how they feel. External pressure is hard, and trying to find the perfect topic you want to work on is also really hard. For me personally, I get involved with lot’s of different things and my path isn’t always clear. I do drama, soccer, acro, coach, Girl Scouts, play the flute, participate in almost any opportunity I’m invited to, plus then the whole school thing (and I must say, I do pretty well at that game). For me narrowing down to one thing has been kind of impossible when it comes to “what are you passionate about”.

The fist advice I gave was about trying to find the connections. When you find connections you are often lead to really interesting conversations and ideas about what you can do.

However, the more I pondered the question, I changed what I wanted to say.

I don’t know when this clicked for me, but the most important thing about doing a passion project is that you are passionate about it. Last night I had said at curriculum night how ID provides you with the time to work on anything you could imagine working on outside of school, and that’s because it is meant to give students time to follow passions. If you aren’t passionate about working on something, then you are working on the wrong thing.

Students really do feel pressured sometimes because they are told to “make a difference” and to always be thinking about that as the end goal. But perception of what it means to “make a difference” is key to everything. Making a difference doesn’t have to mean saving the world or doing some big nation wide thing even. Making a difference simply means that you do something that positively affects at least you if not also a few others in the process.

To go back to the musician, making a difference could simply mean developing skills as a musician and then planning some event/concert where you and maybe a few other people preform a song or two that showcases your learning. That’s still making a difference. It is making a difference in your learning which I think is a pretty big difference.

I realized after this conversation how many students, myself included, feel the pressure of everyone expecting a lot from them, I wonder how might we relieve students of this pressure to do more than just follow their passion?

If you follow your passions, you will make an impact, it just takes some time to realize how.

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