How to end world hunger and the solution to other large problems

July 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

At around 3:30 AM in the middle of a sound sleep, I awoke to a moment of complete lucidity.

The Process of Finding a Problem

Process of Finding a Problem

I awoke so suddenly because I realized I had solved the problem of world hunger. No, really. I LITERALLY (by the literal definition of the word “literally” – see the recent Boston Globe article here) have in my own possession the tool that will CURE cancer.

Let me repeat that: I have in my possession the tool that will solve the problems of climate change!

No, I posses the tool that will end homelessness… This tool can even get the Republicans and the Democrats to avoid defaulting on the country’s debts AND agree on the best way to do it.

Well, maybe that’s pushing it.

But I CAN end the recession. I DO have the ability to resolve the energy crisis. End poverty, and war, and oppression. I can abolish slavery for once and for all.

The tool I posses tool is my own brain. I won’t do it with my brain alone, though. I have at my disposal the problem solving capabilities of the most amazing brains of hundreds of people… Thousands… MILLIONS (thanks to the Internet) – and those brains belong to our students.

Building Learning Communities Logo

Building Learning Communities Logo

This week I attended a conference in Boston called Building Learning Communities (BLC). I can’t do the conference any justice by writing about it on this blog – I will leave that to some of the awe-inspiring educators I met this week (Here’s a simple Google searchthat will show you some of the blog posts that reference the BLC conference as they are written over the next few weeks, but I will update this post with links to specific blogs as more bloggers post their thoughts.)

[edit: Here is a perfect example of a very eloquent blog post written by Brad Ovenell-Carter, head of Think Global school(@Braddo on Twitter): http://ovenell-carter.com/63074864]

But here’s the important part: At the end of the conference, the organizer, Alan November, put out a challenge he’s calling “Stand on our shoulders” [ http://standonourshoulders.com ]. I don’t think the site is even live yet, but here’s the gist:

Alan has put out a call to action. He has asked all educators to work with their students to find and address the world’s most difficult problems: locally, regionally, internationally – you name it. And the reason he has challenged us to take on this awesome task is because we CAN.

We have the ability to solve the world’s problems, and it is simply a matter of sourcing our students – and teaching them how to use the greatest tool at their disposal, their brains – to solve these problems together. Alan wants all educators to put out their hands and figuratively lift our students up onto our shoulders so that our students can take advantage of all of OUR accomplishments, and all of our parents’ accomplishments, and so on. From up on our shoulders, our students can reach even higher, lifted up by humanity’s history of accomplishments.

I am taking Alan up on this challenge. This fall, I will facilitate at any schools that wants to have me, a class on “Problem Finding.” In each of these classes we will find a problem of value to us, and we will spend the semester, the year… The rest of our lives, if need be, addressing that problem; attempting to solve it.

I will help students learn how to use their most valuable and accessible tool – their brain – and I will help teachers coach their students on becoming the best problem finders and problem solvers they can become.

Together, we WILL end world hunger! We CAN, and we WILL.

Thank you, Alan. I guess all we needed to solve the world’s problems was the right tool and the right inspiration.

(A little bonus inherent in this challenge: The best way to evaluate the success of this achievement will not be a standardized test, as so many politicians would have you believe (see this site from another BLC attendee, Angela Maiers or @AngelaMaiers on Twitter). The success of these students will be assessed by the actualization of the real change that these students enact, their ability and desire to repeat their results on future projects, and the benefits to humanity that will be accomplished. Maybe our politicians could learn something from this challenge, after all!)

That’s my take on it, anyway.

(Image credit: Image taken and posted by BLC participant Silvia Tolisano (@langwitches on Twitter) and linked here is a photo from @ewanmcintosh’s keynote presentation on Problem Solving

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§ 2 Responses to How to end world hunger and the solution to other large problems

  • Cecelia Izuo says:

    St. Anthony School in Kailua, Hawaii s taking on the challenge by Alan November to “‘Stand on Our Shoulders.” and make a difference in the world.

  • jangoff says:

    Cecelia, that’s excellent! I’ve been in touch with several schools with whom I am hoping to take on this challenge. Shannon Miller, of Van Meter in Iowa, is also takin on the challenge, and she and I are going to put together a blog – I’ll see about adding additional pages for other schools.

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