Changemakers: Educating with Purpose

Changemakers Education Book Cover

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What if our schools prioritized empathy as much as they did reading and math? What if young people were given regular opportunities to apply empathy as changemakers in their schools and communities?
 
Our world is changing fast. New rules, new openness and new connectivity require different sets of skills just to keep up, let alone thrive. While we do not know what tomorrow’s problems are going to be, we do know there will be many. And we know everyone will need to be equipped to deal with them—with skills that include collaboration, creative problem-solving and leading in fluid environments.

Knowledge alone is no longer enough.
 
Despite this new reality, only a handful of children are consistently provided with the learning environments and opportunities necessary to help them develop the skills they need to thrive in today’s world. This has to change. Fortunately, a growing number of schools in the US and around the world are giving us a window into what education for a changing world looks like. Drawing upon the knowledge and experience of educators within the Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network, Ashoka presents Changemakers: Educating with Purpose.
 

"As educators, we have a responsibility to prepare students for this new world. Not just to survive in it, but thrive in it and contribute to shaping it. Our students will need to create the jobs that don't yet exist and replace the companies and institutions of old. They will shape the  market place , influence culture and improve lives. We are uniquely positioned to help them do so from the time they walk into the school doors. If we do not give them permission to create and innovate, then who will?"


Written through a collaborative writing process called a “book sprint” over the course of just five days, Changemakers serves as an engaging and applicable introduction to what Ashoka refers to as “changemaker education.” A “changemaker,” according to Ashoka’s definition, is someone who has both the will and the skill to make positive change and who puts empathy in action for the good of all. This book, told through the eyes of educators themselves, makes the case that all children can, and should, be changemakers; it discusses catalytic environmental conditions that spark changemaker thinking; and, illustrates the path forward for education and beyond.
 
The authors of Changemakers: Educating with Purpose include nine expert educators from across the United States. Each of these educators comes from an Ashoka Changemaker School—a leading elementary, middle or high school that has been identified by Ashoka as an exemplary model for cultivating the skills of empathy, teamwork, leadership and changemaking. These educators are working to implement this vision in different communities and different regions of the country in order to move us closer to a world where everyone—including every child—is a changemaker. In addition to the nine expert educators, four Ashoka staff contributed to the writing and editing of this book. Book Sprints, Ltd facilitated the book writing process.

This article was originally published on August 23, 2016
Related TopicsChildren & Youth, Early childhood development, Education / Learning, Education reform, Youth development, Youth leadership, Every Child Practicing Empathy

Romina is the Chief Innovations Officer on the Empathy team. She works on strengthening the network of Changemaker Schools & partners. She joined Ashoka in 2005 working with Youth Venture (YV) to create a strong global movement of young changemakers around the world. Among her many roles at Ashoka she has helped launch & expand YV in Europe and Latin America, has led social media strategies, developed the Youth Summits, and has led multiple media partnerships and campaigns. More recently she launched the Changemaker School Summit and co-authored a book, Changemakers: Educating with Purpose.

She has a BA from Macalester College and holds an MA in Int’l Relations from the University of Chicago. She is a co-founder of a youth group that promotes youth participation in Cyprus. She has organized & hosted TEDxYSE and TEDxAshokaU. She lives with her family in Washington, DC.

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