Mind-Blowing and Encouraging -
On New Years Eve Day, December 31st 2011, I participated with select students from Beijing city schools in a creativity - problem solving - innovation workshop organized by the Beijing City School System Administration.
We hear alot of negative things about the educational system in China, but not often do we have a chance to actually interact with the students “up close”.
The Optimistic Truth is - if these young people were in leadership positions today - things would probably be OK - they are clever, innovative, thinking outside the box, not afraid to speak up and confident (although naturally a little nervous) at communicating and defending their sometimes charmingly “off the wall*” ideas.
They care deeply about society and the environment, and with the limited tools and experience they have, they’re better at matching Chinese culture with sustainability and coming up with alternatives to unsustainable behaviours than many adults I’ve met in China! *(BTW - ‘Off the wall’ is good! It’s exactly what we need to encourage, not criticize or suppress!)
This was the second time I have been invited to this Creativity and Innovation Award conference for Beijing Primary and Middle School Children, and this year the passion, commitment and excitement of the students in networking and making friends, brainstorming, problem solving and making comments and observations was even more intense. Maybe they sense the changes coming in 2012 better than the adults!
(SEE PHOTOS HERE: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonpreneur/sets/72157628668393859/
Sure, some of the ideas seemed impractical, or naive, but we’re talking with kids here, who are experiencing “adult caused problems” and imagining simple, refreshing solutions which they can imagine improving the dysfunctional world that they are inheriting… we need to give more POWER to them!
My contribution was to motivate, praise, inspire and introduce
WOW, TIP & PIN-
(the “3 Sustainies“)
…and the Inspirational, Supportive Sound each one makes…
“WOW!, Yeah! and Cool!
as well as the Sustain-O-Meter
a tool to measure the energy and excitement associated with sustainable ideas..
(MAKE YOUR OWN “Sustain-O-Meter“! ASK me for details: sustainOmeter /a gmail /d com )
3 FINGER WEDNESDAY
Many students already knew the meaning of the 3 Finger Sustainability Symbol, and next they learned how to apply the actions of WOW, TIP and PIN to 3 Finger Wednesday - the day each week when we
1.) Change our Face (image) and share our smile with everyone we meet
2.) the one day a week when we don’t eat any meat (you know why…) and
3.) the day we UNPLUG our wasteful appliances, and unplug ourselves from technology, and go out and play and chat with our friends, face-to-face.
This is why we must start NOW to THiNK (and ACT) SUSTAINABLY
We owe it to these SustainaKIDs to help them achieve the dreams and ideas they have for improving their world… we have made a mess of it, and they will end up with the job of living in it and finding ways to clean up the mess we left for them…
I have only one concern that upset me a couple of times during the conference, when those brave young souls were standing alone at the microphone after presenting their ideas (especially the youngest ones), and a few of their peers took pot-shots (negative criticisms) at their ideas…
I winced and my heart sank as the comments flew through the air like arrows shooting out the light bulbs above the presenter’s heads. What saddened me most in those few instances was the apparent delight and self satisfaction the critics had with themselves, and the lack of others coming to the defense of the speaker.
I suppose it really hit home for me, because the afternoon before I had been at an (adult) business meeting / “brainstorming” session for an NGO and the exact same thing was happening with the supposed “grown-ups” …initially lots of creative ideas and discussion, but soon an unhealthy amount of depressing criticism, judgment, and personal opinion that dampened the mood and quashed any desire for the participants to inspire each other further.
The world needs leaders with courage, imagination and problem solving skills. Especially China. The children at the conference had these attributes and were inspiring and reassuring to listen to.
The children were rewarded with the usual certificates, but I hope that more than “certification” and “passing-the-test”, they took home and into their next classes an attitude of “I-can-do-it”, “I-will-do-it”, “I-must-do-it”..that every human-created problem can be solved if enough people get together and make it happen.
Let’s not fail to nurture these attributes in all young people and NEVER be responsible for destroying their passion to achieve a Lifestyle Of Health, Happiness And Sustainability (LOHHAS) for us all.
Thanks to everyone who created the opportunity for SustainaKIDS to learn, be rewarded and motivated_\!/
New Years 2012
Philip McMaster (DaLong)
Thank-you to Paul Wang, Bwise Management Training & Consulting (center, white shirt) for facilitating the yearly invitation_\!/ http://www.bwisechina.com