don’t you ever tell a middle schooler what they can’t do.*
for now, let’s ignore the fact that this 12-year old is beyond rad and focus on the substance here:
“age has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
what have we accomplished? we always ask students what they want to be when they grow up. usually their responses are outlandish – astronaut, baseball player, stuntman, etc. not many of them jump at the idea of being a [fill in boring job description here]. our ability to think outside the box and function outside our comfort zone drastically decreases as we get older. we’re suffocated. held back. we start to learn the limitations in life and don’t allow ourselves to dream the absurd dreams anymore.
“certain types of irrational decision making is exactly what this world needs.“
how many of us still dream? how many of us still aim for Utopian perfection? youth’s ability to imagine is able to push the boundaries past the limitations that adults have been conditioned into. kids are capable of things that we are NOT. what if we gave them the chance to prove it?
“the students should teach their teachers…the relationship should be reciprocal.“
oh man. how many times did we all think this when we were going through middle school and high school? i for sure thought it in 3/7 of my classes each day. why do we have thoughts like that? because teachers aren’t allowing their students to expand. the teacher has all the answers and you better not question their teachings. this shuts down students’ ability to grow and develop. what if the students were given the chance to run the show? rather than feeling like the lower one on the totem pole, what if they had ownership of their classes?
at hillcrest we have a high school leadership group that meets on thursday nights – it’s a group of students that are committed to transforming our youth ministry from the inside out. after many weeks of encouraging and teaching and vision casting, a new philosophy was set for the thursday meetings: student led discussions. these high schoolers are leading the conversations! all it takes is an opportunity to rise to the occasion and students will give it what they’ve got. and if the foundation has been laid properly – they’ll blow you away every time.
“it is imperative to create opportunites for children so that we can grow up and blow you away.“ one of my 6th grade students is traveling to Haiti next week. yes, Haiti, that place of major devastation due to that major earthquake from a couple months ago. not sure if you remember it – a lot of us seem to have already moved on…shocker. this student is going to Haiti. originally, when we asked the orphanage if it was okay that we were bringing a 12-year old along, the group was hesitant to give the OK. thank the Lord that they did. this is exactly the type of opportunity that students don’t get nearly enough. there is a 100% chance that this student will come home from Haiti with a greater perspective on himself, God, others and the world of which he is apart.
“adults often underestimate kids abilities…and when expectations are low, we will sink to them.” fortunately, the opposite is also true – if we allow kids to achieve their potential – they can meet those expectations.
again, it comes back to opportunities – the parents of this 12-year old allowed her to pursue her dream as a young child, and now she’s a TED speaker?! this girl learned to READ less than 8 years ago and now she’s forming those learned words into sentences that are altering minds and influencing others and spurning late-night blog posts from yours truly! and where does it begin? with an ADULT looking at a child, at a student, at the next generation and encouraging them to dream big and providing a CHANCE for them to succeed.
so for anyone working with young people of any kind – trust them to succeed. if you show them that you believe they can do anything, and you allow them the outlet to grow and meet their potential – they’ll do just that.
* – LOST: john locke reference.