changing the world

29Jun14

Isn’t that what a lot of us want to do? Make a change. Make our mark.

(It’s just that a lot of us don’t know how! What are our tools?)

I’ve spent the past 40 years flailing about (well… maybe not all 40. I doubt I was thinking of changing the world in my first year of life). I didn’t go into education in order to “change the world”, but because I enjoyed it as a career. Creating change was a nice side-effect.

But after a while, quarter after quarter, I wondered how much I was truly exerting change. I was merely a class on their route to nursing school, or so it seemed. Just another quarter. Ho-hum.

Yet still, I stuck with education, and have kept challenging myself to find unique ways to explain difficult scientific concepts… and maybe make them funny at the same time. More of a challenge for me these days, as I compete with electronics, but I work for their attention!

And then, there was this quarter. When I teach non-majors health, I have them complete a behavior change journaling project, where they choose a health-related goal at the beginning of the quarter that they would like to improve. Some of them would like to stop smoking, some would like to drink more water, some would like to get more sleep. Every week, I ask them to write an entry in a journal about their progress, which I collect at the end of the quarter.

While this project has always gotten good feedback, it was during this quarter that students actually saw change that they told me about. I saw a handful of positive comments written on their final exams, such as one guy having stopped smoking, one having lost 9 pounds over the course of the quarter, one woman having started a regular meditation practice…

When I read those comments, I realized: I am actually changing the world! Whereas before, I was using silly songs and mnemonics to teach scientific facts, I am now helping people make healthy changes in their lives. WOW!

And they give me the credit… but really, I just give them the framework and guidance. It’s their own motivation that creates the change.

So, sometimes when we’re looking to “change the world” or “make a big difference”, you don’t have to look very far–the tools might be right in front of you.

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