Revolutionary Optimists

It is easy for all of us to forget the power we have to change the world. That certainly is true of many children. When children go through days and weeks of scheduled hours and mandated activities—in and out of school- it is easy to imagine how they may come to feel small and lacking power. It may seem as if life is something happening to them, a place where their voice barely matters.

That is where the Revolutionary Optimists come in. The term originated as a film title, based on the work of Amlan Ganguly, a former attorney turned educator/activist, and the young people he empowers. The film’s description begins, “Children are saving lives in the slums of Kolkata.” And they are. You will be inspired by the Revolutionary Optimists and so will your students.

One statement that sticks with me (paraphrased) is, “There are clubs in every town. They all have festivals. If they can organize big festivals, they can work to make their communities better.” It is unlikely that most of your communities need a major effort to promote polio vaccine. But there is something your community needs, and it requires both creativity and children’s voices. You just have to think about what it is.

For more inspiration, check the website linked above, or the slightly different film featured on the TED blog. You might want to learn more about their mapping project or explore their new Sparkwise Dashboard. I challenge you to come away without wanting to do something wonderful with children. Then do it, and tell us all about it!

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