Teaching the future leaders

I was honoured this afternoon to speak to, in my opinion, a potential future world leader. This person is one of the most compassionate, level headed, empathetic, responsible and confident people I have met. This person is, of course, one of my students – an 11 year old boy.

We are currently working on a unit of inquiry that has focussed on leadership and in particular what it takes to be an effective leader. The summative assessment task for this unit gives the students the choice to take leadership over something that they are passionate about – essentially to put the knowledge of leadership skills in to practice.

This particular student is of Cambodian origin and he has decided that he wants to learn more about the lives of kids in his home country. Our school is heavily involved in supporting an organisation called the People’s Improvement Organisation which has set up a school located on a rubbish tip. It’s purpose is to provide free education to kids who otherwise would be sorting rubbish for anything that can be salvaged, recycled or sold. So with some guidance this boy has decided that he wants to go and visit the school and work with the kids there. What courage from an 11 year old!

I suggested that he needs to send an email to PIO to sort out some details. This afternoon I was helping him to explain a little bit about why he wants to do this and this is when I was almost brought to tears with the thoughtful, genuine responses he gave to the simple question of ‘Why do you want to do this?’. Here are the notes I took as he spoke with me:

  • I am Cambodian
  • I want to learn more about Cambodia
  • I want to take responsibility to help my country and it’s people
  • I respect Cambodia
  • Just because I study overseas doesn’t mean I only care about myself – I do care about the education of others too
  • I want to experience how others live – how others fight to live
  • I want to try new things

I sincerely hope this action is followed through, because if it does, I think it will be one of the most important, life-changing events that this boy will ever go through.

This is why I teach!