My Disbelief of the Impossible

Wheaties/Muhammad Ali 2.15.12

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“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” ― Muhammad Ali

I don't believe in impossible problems.

Nothing gets me fighting like being told "no." 

I am part of a generation that believes anything is possible.

Although some may say I'm just young and naive, I truly believe that there's a solution to every problem--that with enough times and enough brains we can find an answer. We will cure cancer. We will end world hunger. We will make healthy food taste good. We will find ways to help every student learn. 

I'm currently a part of MERIT- a year-long ed tech program at the Krause Center for Innovation in Los Altos, California. The central part of this experience is a two-week institute of exploration, creation, and inspiration. Throughout the program we deeply probe a problem our world is currently facing: school isn't working like it should.

Kids are bored. Kids learn facts that they forget the next day (why would you remember it when you can Google it?). Kids become robots who sit quietly and listen. The problem: school doesn't prepare students for the world they will live in for the rest of their lives.

I wonder if so many of my twenty-something friends aren't jobless because there aren't jobs, but because they haven't learned to be the creative problem solvers our job market demands. The U.S. unemployment rate is 7.4% (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and yet many tech companies can't find enough people to hire (Mercury News). Does our current education system produce the creative programmers and start-up entrepreneurs everyone longs to see? Or are we still cultivating factory workers who know how to sit quietly and do their jobs? I want my students to be creative people who see the world's problems and seek to solve them, even if it's messy, loud, and unpredictable.

I commit to make my classroom a place where students can be these messy, loud, unpredictable world-changers.

The longer I live in the Bay Area, the more I believe I live in a unique place. People from all over the world pay outrageous cost of living prices in order to live in a place where other people don't believe in the impossible. Instead, they see a problem, find a solution, and share that solution with the world.  

Instead of saying "We can't...," we ask,  "How do we...?" Facebook. Google. Apple. Ebay. Start-ups galore. The Bay Area is filled with an entrepreneurial spirit that longs to solve the world's problems. Further, they believe they can solve them. And then they actually solve them.

This happens on a smaller scale every day. What do you do when there's a problem you don't know how to solve? That's right: Google it. As I've produced movies, created infographics, shared information, and researched ideas in the MERIT institute, I have continually Googled my problems, looking for brains that know a solution. If that doesn't work, I ask people. If I still find myself stuck, I play, looking for a way around the "impossible" to make my dreams possible. And it's worked. I've made my imagination become a reality. 

I want my students to have this "nothing is impossible" worldview.

I want them to identify problems, creatively solve them, and share those solutions with the world. I want my classroom to help them develop the skills they'll need to work with others, to persevere even when it looks like the answer is "no," and to always be working to help others.

But more than anything, I want my classroom to help them develop a mindset that nothing is impossible.