Ever wanted to change the world?
I have. I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to. I’ve learned, I’m learning and I’m yet to learn many things (as you will see).
This blog is intended to be a honest discussion about what changing the world might look like. In it you’ll find creative experiments, challenges to take action, thought provoking stories and experiences that will inspire you in your own journey to change the world.
This blog is for world changers.
The trouble with changing the world is…
The trouble with changing the world is, acting with good intentions is not enough. Sometimes our efforts can do more harm than good. Here’s an example of what I mean.
As a Physical Educator I’m aware that between 6th-8th grade the FMS (Fundamental Motor Skills) of the average female will decline. Despite two years of Pysical Education the overarm throw and vertical leap of the average female will actually go backward! There are a number of factors that contribute to this but none of them have to do with ability.
When I hear boys (heaven forbid even girls) using “you play like a girl” as an insult it makes my blood boil. When boys exclude girls from games or refuse to pass to them it makes me furious because I know what it all adds up to. Girls participation drops and becuase of this their skills don’t improve. The myth that girls aren’t capable is reinforced and the cycle continues.
I had to do something about it.
Talking with the class wasn’t enough. Neither was the t-shirt below or the video of incredible female athletes that pops up when you scan it.
I really wanted to drive home the point so I set up a tug-of-war competition, confident of the result, knowing most girls have easily outgrown boys by grades 5 and 6.
The tug-of-war match began and I stood back to enjoy the inevitable result, giving myself a pat on the back as I watched the girls win easily. The boys reactions ranged from shock and embarassement to making excuses and name calling. I must admit, I took a little pleasure in this.
Lessons from a Grade 6.
The next week I stopped the class again to point out some things that females generally do better than their male counterparts. At this point a wise young lady asked me to “Stop comparing us with the boys”. I was too busy mounting my high horse to really listen. It was only after class when I thought back to what she had said that I realised what she meant.
My intention was to show how capable girls really are, but these intentions had left a bunch boys feeling humiliated and embarassed. Prejudice hadn’t disappeared, it had switched sides. Not only that, I had inadvertantly created an atmosphere of competition and comparison rather than collaboration and fun.
This wise grade six student reminded me of the importance of thinking before you unleash your good intentions on somebody else.
Intentional actions, unintended consequences
This has happened more than I would like to admit. Being there for a friend can turn into dependency which leaves them feeling powerless to change their own situation. Offering money to someone (who told me they’re not a charity case) can rob them of the dignity of earning it themselves. Heading overseas for two weeks believing you can fly in and change the world reinforces the idea that you have all the answers. While we’re busy patting ourselves on the back I wonder what those we’re “helping” think.
The key to changing the world
How can we be sure our efforts are actually addressing the needs of others? By listening. It’s that simple.
How do you want to change the world and how might taking more time to listen help?
-Stop and reflect-