“Waters of March” by Professor Bop, (Flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Generic Licence
What has been most powerful for me about the Arab Spring, is hearing the voices of people who might not otherwise have been heard. This is the exciting potential of new technologies as a tool for global citizenship.
In relating this to children, they also have the potential to have their voices heard. But as educators, we must ask ourselves, what is the most important thing we need to teach children in becoming “agents of change, capable of actively contributing to their well-being and that of their communities” (Fonseca & Bujanda, p.245). Journalism students interviewed by Mihailidis & Shumow, “saw a need for individuals to have the necessary training and motivation to be informed and critical thinkers” (p. 43). I wonder if there is a simpler solution. In becoming informed and critical thinkers, what if our primary focus was helping children learn to listen?
Ernesto Sirolli in his Ted Talk Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! learned this through his unsuccessful aid work in Africa as a young man. Now, he says, “I do something very difficult. I shut up and listen.” He says, “The first principle of aid is respect.” He marvels at the “miracle of the intelligence of local people,” and in his work, he has “become a servant of local passion.” He quotes Peter Drucker, well-known management consultant, who said, “Planning is the kiss of death in an entrepreneurial society.”
What could this mean for us as educators? I think first, we have to respect the intelligence of the children we teach, shut up and listen. Secondly, I think we have to throw our plans out the window, and see what the children come up with. Thirdly, I think we have to create a community that encourages their passions, not ours.
Fonseca, C., & Bujanda, M. (2011). Promoting children’s capacities for active and deliberative citizenship with digital technologies: the cade project in Costa Rica. Annals Of The American Academy Of Political & Social Science, 633(1), 243-262.
Mihailidis, P., & Shumow, M. (2011). Theorizing journalism education, citizenship, and new media Technologies in a Global Media Age. Taiwan Journal Of Democracy, 7(2), 27-47.
Sirolli, E. (2012, November). Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! Ted Ideas Worth Spreading. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen.html