We have formed a Facebook group to connect many of our passionate viewers.
Now, we want to help advance interest in self-directed learning by convening students, teachers, and parents to share ideas and strategies.
One of the biggest education conferences is SXSWedu in Austin, Texas. We have proposed a panel for next year’s conference to shine the spotlight on self-directed learning. Some of the esteemed participants include teenage authors and activists Adora Svitak and Nikhil Goyal as well as education blogger David Cutler. We hope to invite even more reformers to be part of the conversation, so stay tuned.
To make this panel a reality, we need your help. We need you to vote for our panel at the following link: SXSWedu panel. (You’ll need to create an account but the process is quick and you only need to vote once!)
Voting accounts for 30% of our final score so please help us show the organizers that there’s interest in this panel.
The panel will be recorded and shared online for free so even if you don’t plan on attending SXSWedu, you’ll still get to hear our presentations.
The voting page will also link you to inspiring talks by our panelists, so head over there and show your support.
That’s what some students did at the Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Under the leadership of 12th grader, Sam Levin, the students designed and participated in a school-within-a-school, dubbed the Independent Project.
They got rid of grades, test scores, classes and even teachers (as lecturers). Instead, they learned what they wanted to learn and tried to answer questions that arise from their own curiosity. The entire semester is built around weekly presentations and major projects that they design for themselves.
Within this setup, teachers serve the role of mentors and facilitators.
This unique experiment has helped participating students discover their own passion for learning and proved to educators and parents alike that schools can be radically different than the way they are designed now.
Above is a short documentary I made to show how the Independent Project works.
If you’re interested in joining other students and educators in replicating this model, head on over to the Facebook group created for this video.]]>
Social Creatives is now designed to be a launchpad for your own world-changing projects. It provides inspiration, tools and resources to help you answer that fundamental question, “How can I contribute to a better world?”
It’s not an easy question but it’s not an impossible one either. It’s not the same as asking, “How do we solve climate change?” or “What is the meaning of life?”
Figuring out how you can contribute and make a difference is a personal question, not a theoretical one. Only you can come up with the answer.
As you’ll see over and over again on this site, the answers are as varied as the people behind them. All types of individuals are creating change in their own unique ways – students, stay-at-home moms, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.
Change is not a profession. It’s a calling and a practice that spans all human endeavors. Regardless of where you find yourself, there are opportunities for you to contribute and make a difference.
In that spirit, this website has three main goals:
1) Showcase diverse projects
We learn by example. The more we can expose you to the wide range of projects that others have initiated to create change, the sooner inspiration will strike. Browse the Projects section, watch the videos and immerse yourself in the stories of others. Let their inspiration guide you. We will feature new projects on an ongoing basis and tease out the lessons we can learn from each one.
2) Provide tools for action
By definition, “social creatives” are people of action. Sooner or later, you’ll want to roll up your sleeves and start doing things yourself. That’s when the real fun begins. We’ve started creating tools that make the process easier. Take a look. More are on their way.
3) Connect you to valuable resources
Through our blog, we will showcase resources and opportunities that we think are especially helpful to change agents. Subscribe to our blog posts via email if you are interested. (See box in right column.)
Of course, every project is distinct and has unique needs. If you feel compelled to reach out to us for help, we’ll be more than happy to learn about your project and offer mentorship assistance where we can.
We welcome any feedback, suggestions or even critique that you may have for this website. We look forward to featuring your project someday soon.
The best projects of today’s Social Creatives defy easy categorization. That is especially the case with Living on One, a project launched by four American college students to create awareness of extreme poverty.
It is first and foremost an artistic (film) project to tell stories of the 1.1 billion people living on one dollar or less a day. But a key hook of their endeavor is the challenge they issue themselves – that they too would live on a dollar a day. Not only does it help them build trust with the people they’re profiling, it gives them a deeper understanding of what life in extreme poverty is really like.
Lastly, Living on One is also a research project to understand the financial lives of the extreme poor – how they earn, save and spend money – and the innovations that are making a real impact. They hope this research will lead to better insights of what solutions we need to support and scale.
The team has just completed their first documentary on their summer in Guatemala. They’re now taking the film on tour and plotting the next adventure – in Africa.
I’ve written about their project at the Huffington Post. Check it out.]]>
How do we make a difference? How do we live a life that matters?
Deep down we know we should contribute positive change in some way. It’s the how that stumps us. In a world dominated by institutions of power, what can one individual do anyway?
These days, a lot. Empowered by education and technology, today’s change agents are initiating projects of all kinds to create new possibilities and contribute to a better world.
Endeavor showcases ten project types of today’s “social creatives.” Each category features two projects that have made a positive impact. Hear their creators share their stories through inspiring TED and TEDx Talks. Let their examples be an inspiration to you as you try to make a difference yourself.
A forthcoming ebook will guide you step-by-step through the process of creating and improving your social change project and help you develop the core skills of changemaking.
This book was designed for the iPad. You can download it from iTunes here.]]>
Six Habits of SOCIAL Entrepreneurs
Aristotle said we are what we repeatedly do. If that’s the case, then we can look at social entrepreneurs through the lens of habits – what they do day in and day out. Here are six habits that set them apart and help them achieve success.
I offer this simple framework to help us understand and practice social entrepreneurship so that our efforts at social change can become true success stories rather than simply “learning experiences.”
When we study the stories of social entrepreneurs, we learn that they succeed when they…
Social and environmental problems may be what motivate social entrepreneurs but they don’t focus people on the “problem.” Instead, they engage others and create excitement around new solutions, usually in the form of a product or service. They talk “value propositions” not mission statements.
Social entrepreneurs know exactly how their solution benefits people or the environment and they measure their success by their impact, not by their good intention. They know the difference between outputs (which measure your effort) and outcomes (which measure the impact of your effort). They measure outcomes so they can know and show the real difference they’re making.
Establish CHANGE MODELS
Whereas businesses find systematic ways to generate profit, social entrepreneurs find systematic ways to create change. They find formulas for change (also known as change models) that can be repeatable and scalable. This allows them to focus on the essentials and bring change to as many people as possible.
Social entrepreneurs know social change is complex and much more difficult than getting people to buy your can of soda. It often requires behavior and/or system change. To achieve that type of impact, you need understanding, empathy and collaboration. Social entrepreneurs succeed when they include others in the design, production, distribution and evaluation of their solutions.
The vast majority of social entrepreneurs have to bootstrap their way to success. So you don’t start with “business plans.” You start by creatively leveraging your assets, which include people, skills, resources, organizations and networks. When you can demonstrate some success or achieve impact with what you already have, you can then convince others to help you scale.
Small change is easy. Big change is hard. To have meaningful impact on a problem, you need long-term thinking. That means thinking about how solutions can last, how ventures can sustain, and how outcomes can scale. This is what differentiates short-term projects from long-lasting ventures.
The Creative Activist Toolkit
In short, they help changemakers avoid three of the most common mistakes in early stages of changemaking, namely:
Locking in on ideas too quickly
Problem solving requires creativity and, to be creative, you need both divergent and convergent thinking. Innovators need to stay open-minded to different possibilities and different solutions before locking in on one. However, most people feel lucky to come up with just one idea. Afraid they can’t come up with more, they commit to it too quickly and defend it against any and all critique. Changemakers can do themselves a huge favor by staying open to different solutions and only commit to one when they have to.
Focusing on outputs rather than outcomes
What you do (outputs) is different from the difference you make (outcomes). Most people don’t make this distinction. They assume the more they tutor, volunteer, fundraise, and lobby, etc., the more impact they’re making for other people and the environment. So, they set goals to maximize their outputs. But, social change is ultimately about outcomes — how people are better off or how the environment is better off. Often, maximizing outcomes is not about doing more but taking different actions. So, set goals based on outcomes, not outputs.
Setting unrealistic goals
We tend to assume there’s one ultimate solution to a problem and our job as changemakers is to figure out and implement that one solution. However, that kind of thinking can easily spin out of control. It can lead us to develop solutions that we have no hope of realizing, given our abilities and resources. Instead of scaling down expectations, we scale up: we’ll raise more money, stretch out the timeline, create a killer app, etc. Without concrete results, momentum and good will are quickly exhausted and one’s project dies a quiet death. Instead of reaching for the moon, achieve some short-term impact using available resources and use your early success to fuel more ambitious dreams.
I don’t pretend this Creative Activist Toolkit can provide even a fraction of the guidance you’ll need as changemakers but I hope it makes the journey a bit less intimidating.]]>