We, all of us, have the responsibility to buy the extra time, which will maybe ensure our survival as a civilization. And I have been wondering what we can do about it. The human species with its genius and its ability to understand the world and the universe has devised all the technological advances to make our world a better place; we have the knowledge, the science and the resources.
Have we just become too lazy using our gifts and abilities to fight for our humanity? Have we become too selfish and greedy to really care about the world around us?
I am just a teacher. My power is limited. I get up every morning hoping that my actions will change a student and bring someone to awareness of the world around us. I can change only one life at a time. I deal every day with a mountain of paperwork, antiquated educational practices and spiteful fearful attitudes from some colleagues. So when the opportunity presents itself to reach another level of education, I dont take it, I grab it and I hold it tight. This is indeed what happened in March quite by accident, or was it?
In March, I was invited by ThinkQuest NYC to attend with three of my students the United Nations panel on war and terrorism, featuring the SyFy show Battlestar Galactica and organized by Visions for Tomorrow. I had just come out of the hospital, where I had received treatment for multiple sclerosis and I was barely recovering from the aggressive intravenous medications and the emotional shock of confirming this diagnosis. Actually, watching BSG had kept my mind busy during that time, and I had held on to the distraction it provided like a life line against the realization of my own mortality. I became quite a rather recent fan.
Immediately I had seen the achievement of the show in addressing our deepest and darkest side, how it mirrored our world, with its addiction to fear and intolerance, how it asked critically the meaning of being human. It did not impose any answers either, but forced the public to think about those questions. By bringing students to this panel at the United Nations, Visions for Tomorrow and ThinkQuest opened up these reflections to education and students.
One of the classes I teach is bioethics. I use a lot of movies and media material to introduce complicated ideas to students, who might not have the literacy level allowing them to read and understand complicated philosophy texts and who otherwise would never be exposed to those ideas. In a time where the media are embedded in our lives, why not teach with them. Students are using technology, Twitter, Facebook, they are blogging, creating their own movies and designing their own websites. It is amazing to explore the creativity developed over the internet by the younger generation. They are tuned in the media a lot more than ever before and turning away from traditional methods of learning and creating.
Maybe the future of education will be out of the classroom and really in the field, creating and communicating with others world-wide with technology. Who says learning has to be boring? My students that evening at the United Nations learned valuable facts about the world human right situation and skills. I learned that I can teach differently. I learned that we will change our attitudes towards the world only with education, because the younger generation needs to be made aware of the world problems and address them with compassion.
Stay tuned for the conclusion part of Christine Rogers three part series, Running out of time. You can find part one right here.