This semester my class is filled with actual college age kids. Normally I have a least a few older people and it hasn’t been uncommon for a third of the class to be over 30 years old. It has been a little different not having people with a lot of life experience to help me by asking questions and relating principles to their current or former work. But it is pretty fun trying to reach a completely young group.
The first day I played a Ted Talk for them because I wanted them to start the semester thinking positively and this talk is great at teaching us how to push ourselves to act braver than we think we are. Amy Cuddy is the presenter and she starts by talking about body language and how it affects what we do and how we act. The link is below, the 20:55 are well worth your time to watch.
On our last day of class that first week I asked the class to take a couple minutes over the weekend to watch any Ted Talk they wanted. I challenged them to give up 15 minutes of video game time to improve their minds. Monday morning, I gave them all a piece of paper and asked for a description of the talk they watched. One of my quietest kids in the class watch the following video about a firefighter.
Mark Bezos, “A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter,” is a great video that shows the power of small acts to affect people’s lives. This one is about six minutes long, and also well worth your six minutes.
Naturally I showed the talk to the class and challenged them to take a couple minutes over this last weekend and make a difference in someone’s life. There were 30 kids in class to hear the challenge. Today 25 turned in a paper describing what they had done. TWENTY-FIVE!!! If this challenge had been given to a religious group or a service organization 25 would be a good number but this is an intro level microeconomics class with kids from 17 to 20 years old. TWENTY-FIVE!! I was stunned, then I read them and almost cried.
A couple of excerpts:
“Yesterday at work I saw a homeless man with his dog in the shade near my work. I bought him a water and a muffin and took his dog a cup of treats. We sat and just talked for a half hour after my shift. The best part was he offered me some of his muffin. Some people truly inspire me.”
“My dad passed away in 2014, and his birthday is still a really hard day for my mom. She always tells me stories about him – like how they picked elderberries on their honeymoon. Son on his birthday (Saturday) I went up to Icicle Creek and brought her home a bag full of elderberries and my dad’s favorite candy from the Candy Factory in Cashmere. She said it was the easiest that day has been since he passed away.”
“I showed by girlfriend, who has a hard time with anxiety and speaking up, the Ted Talk we watched in class to help her speak up and build confidence. She ended up spending over an hour on Ted Talks.”
“Invited a girl at my school who is lonely to lunch and a girl’s day.”
From a young man, “My mother was not feeling well because she’s taking a new prescription and she had to take care of both my nieces (9 months and 2 years). She was so tired from the medicine I decided to help her and take care of them for two nights so she can sleep well. I hope this counts.”
“I saw my 6th grade teacher at the soccer game on Friday so I went up and said hi. I told him how much I appreciated him and what he did for me in his class. He was surprised that a teenager would come up and say those things.”
“I was driving to my mom’s house and I saw an older lady putting some boxes in a storage room. I stopped and helped her carry the boxes in the storage.”
“I helped my dad’s girlfriend by volunteering to watch her 5 and 8-year-old daughters while she was doing errands so she didn’t have to drag them along.”
I was impressed with both the quantity and the quality of the efforts. They restored by faith in mankind.