A Better World through Our Young People

November 17, 2016

This piece by Jane Ehrenfeld, Inspired Teaching’s Executive Director, appeared in Inspired Teaching’s November 2016 newsletter. 

The problems we face in the world today are immense, and more pressing each day. The issues debated through the presidential campaign — access to economic opportunity, confronting the threat of terrorism, climate change, health care, immigration, and on and on — are complex and wide-reaching. The rhetoric caused many of us to doubt our collective capacity to tolerate difference, listen to opposing viewpoints, and treat others with empathy and kindness.

In the face of these urgent challenges, what is Inspired Teaching doing?

Our answer: it starts in school. For a better world, we must ensure our young people build their capacity as problem solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators, and empathetic changemakers. We must change the role of the teacher, from a provider of information to an Instigator of Thought™. We must ensure every child is taught how to think, not what to think, in an educational system that prizes students’ engagement, not their compliance. We must show the world a new vision for what school should look like, and invest in teachers to enact that vision.

Over the past month, Inspired Teaching has acted as a model of innovation for the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) studied the Inspired Teacher Certification Program as part a survey of best practices across seven nations. A book featuring Founder Aleta Margolis, Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World was made available in the world’s three most commonly spoken languages. A delegation of the best principal in each state of Brazil visited the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School.

We know our work does not stand alone. We’re making a concerted effort to contribute to the field and support the efforts of aligned organizations, so together we can change mindsets about education. Inspired Teaching staff presented at Ashoka’s Changemaker Education Summit, which convened school leaders across Europe with the goal of bringing about a world where every young person is empowered. Inspired Teaching’s Cosby Hunt facilitated a session for educators called Infusing Rigor at Think It Up Live. Think It Up aims to put a spotlight on and generate support for student-powered projects in school.

As we work hard to shift the practice of teachers, we know it is vital to make the case for Inspired Teaching, publicly and persistently — and to support it with evidence. This week, I sat down with Robyn Sperling, Director of Research and Evaluation, to talk about the research that underlies our mission. She gives a preview of our upcoming white paper, which highlights the need to adopt engagement-based, rather than compliance-based, education.

The world needs more empathetic, problem-solving, analytical changemakers. Help make that world a reality today. Donate to Inspired Teaching. If you’re a prospective educator or if you know of any, the Inspired Teacher Certification Program is accepting applicants for its 2017 cohort of Inspired Teaching Fellows. Please share. Thank you for your support.

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