Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In This World

Today I was struck by the realization of just how different the world is than the one I grew up in, a fact that I don’t find to be necessarily a bad thing. While I acknowledge that there is huge room for growth in us all, I constantly marvel at how amazing life is. 

Case in point, I am typing this tonight shortly after 10 pm in Central Illinois. I know as soon as I hit post friends all over our country will be reading it within the hour.  Social media is often seen as the source of evil, but it can also be good. For example, recently friends near and far flooded my mailbox with books for a colleague that suddenly found herself teaching seventh grade this semester. I simply sent the message that it was needed, and well over one hundred books appeared.

And that example isn't even an isolated event. Tonight while logging on to post my son’s fundraising request on Facebook so family across the country could donate, I was repeatedly surprised to get several notifications that friends and colleagues logged on to give him money. Liam's smile grew each time I shared with him another donation to the point that I had to admonish him to GO TO SLEEP. Returning to Facebook, I scrolled through status updates and smiled. I saw celebrations from students’ parents, friends, and family. I caught up on the lives of many people that I love, but do not live near.

As the night was winding down I glanced at YouTube. While I can’t tell you the last time I watched a television show, I have seen several videos on YouTube on a daily basis. The short videos are the perfect length for my crazy schedule. I am also fascinated by vlogs. I love blogging, but do not enjoy being in front of the camera, so vlogging is not something I would likely have done. That being said, I’m fascinated by the generation below me. Many make a living by posting videos on YouTube. Some are inane, but many are interesting.

Here is one I watched today that I enjoyed: 


The channel is JacksGap. Jack and his twin brother, Finn, run this channel. They organized a group of guys to travel across India in these tiny cars to raise money to fight teenage cancer. They are crazy, typical kids – likely too daring, but I have to admire that. I know when I was twenty I didn’t travel to India and raise almost $200,000.

And this all brings me back to my students. Looking at these eleven year old kids in front of me each day I wonder, what does the future hold for them? Sure, they might be future doctors, teachers, lawyers, bankers, etc. But what else? Ten years ago there was no YouTube, now people like Jack and Finn make their living in front of cameras on it. How do I prepare my students for this world? I think it comes back to the desire to learn, to follow your passion, to live your life. 

The song at the end of Jack and Finn’s video is called “In a Perfect World.” Perfection is unattainable, but in my mind our world is pretty good. In just a bit over forty days I turn forty. This world is sure different than the one I grew up in, but a good different. I can’t wait to see where we end up next.