Release the energies!

And, perhaps my last post of connecting the idea of philanthropy to our students (inspired again by Jacqueline’s Novogratz’s book The Blue Sweater). John Gardner, while giving advice to Novogratz, continued:

“Finally,” he continued, “philanthropists should find innovations that release the energies of people. Individuals don’t want to be taken care of — they need to be given a chance to fulfill their own potential. Too many projects create dependence that helps no one in the long run.”

Doesn’t that sound exactly like school?! Our students don’t want to be taken care of (worksheets, highly structured lesson plans and graded activities), they want to and need to be given a chance to engage, discover their potential and fulfill it.

Let’s not be afraid to release the energies!

Take the time to listen

Following up on my last post about connecting with the book The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz, I love the advice Novogratz’s mentor, John Gardner, gave her: (remembering, again, to substitute the word  ‘student‘ for ‘philanthropist‘):

“The one most important skill to teach is listening. If philanthropists don’t first listen they will never be able to address issues fully because they will not understand them.”

In her final chapter, Novogratz lists the most important things she has learned over the last 30 years. She said that people will almost always tell you the truth if you take the time to listen. If you don’t take the time, they will tell you what they think you want to hear.

Do we teach our students to listen? Not just to hear, but to listen, to question, to understand. How can we and our students become part of the solution if we don’t truly understand the problem.

Our Students, Our Philanthropists

Recently I read a post by  George Gouros who wrote,

“I haven’t had the time to read anything, and usually through reading, I am inspired to write.”

This resonated with me.  I, too, find that I often start discussions with, “This reminds me of the book I’m reading…” or “I read something interesting…” It seems that I find connections to education in almost everything I read. Through reading I am inspired to talk deeply with others.

Lately, I have been reading the fascinating book by Jacqueline Novogratz, The Blue Sweater. Novogratz was asked by the Rockefeller Foundation to evolve philanthropy. To use their money to make a difference. As I read, I realized that our students are the philanthropists of our world. Their potential is their wealth, and they are overflowing with potential. Read the following excerpt from The Blue Sweater. As you read, insert ‘students‘ for ‘philanthropists‘.

“What kind of programme can you create that would provide not only skills but also a spectrum of experiences that will enable philanthropists to understand issues and see themselves as part of the solution.

We would train a core of philanthropists and provide them with the skills, knowledge and networks needed to tackle tough problems. We knew our effort would be global, we would dive into many different issues and explore what had worked historically as well as what might be needed for the future.”

We need to create an educational environment for our class of philanthropists in which they see themselves as part of the solution. 

By Jacqueline Novogratz
By Jacqueline Novogratz