This past week I taught a humane education mini-course to the 7/8th grade at the Bay School in Blue Hill, Maine. We discussed slavery, global warming and trash production, animal cruelty in various industries, and poverty. The theme of the week was changing systems, and we watched films about changemakers who are not only trying to alleviate suffering among specific people and animals, but who are actively trying to shift unsustainable, inhumane, and destructive systems towards ones which are healthy, positive, and just.
I encouraged the students to think of ways that they could participate in changing systems, in addition to making daily MOGO choices that were aligned with their values. After small group brainstorming, the class reported on their ideas. One that emerged was placing a jar in the classroom in which each student would put $1/week. Each month, they would have about $100 with which they could do some good.
This idea caught on quickly. The entire class was behind it, and in their MOGO plans, which they shared the last day, several talked about doing this project. The originator of the idea is committed to enlisting the teacher’s help to ensure that the class follows through.
I look forward to seeing how they choose to spend the $100 each month that they collect. Some of the money they are eager to invest with Kiva.org, a non-profit that offers microcredit, interest-free loans to people around the world to start or expand small businesses. Some they wish to give to the local food pantry to help their neighbors who cannot afford groceries.
I love how one student’s idea so immediately captured the imagination of the class and ignited their enthusiasm, and I love how quickly positive and generous intentions can blossom into practical fruits.