Podcast: 5 Reasons High Schools Should Help Young People Find and Make Their Unique Contribution

Today’s episode is all about contribution, featuring our very own Tom Vander Ark and Dr. Emily Leibtag.

High school has always been thought of as preparation for college and careers. But what if it were a time when teenagers actually started making a difference in their community? What if young people had the chance to figure out what they’re interested in, what they’re good at, and how they could start making a contribution? Tom and Emily argue that students contributing to their community might be the best form of preparation there could be!

In this episode, Tom and Emily give their five reasons high schools should focus on contribution (below). They also provide several examples of schools doing just that; engaging young people in making the world better starting right where they are!

Five reasons to focus on contribution:

  1. Better Preparation
  2. More Motivation
  3. Pressing Problems
  4. More Opportunity 
  5. Social Economy.

Key Takeaways:

[:14] About today’s episode.
[1:05] Emily and Tom chat about today’s discussion.
[2:58] What the Getting Smart team sees as the most valuable skills in the future and the types of experiences youth need in order to develop these skills.
[5:33] The importance of contribution for young people leaving high school.
[8:05] Examples from Tom Vander Ark of contribution.
[10:11] Emily shares a great quote on the importance of contribution.
[12:05] Why schools (especially high schools) should focus on contribution.
[13:13] Schools that are great examples of agency and collaboration by dealing with real community problems.
[14:16] The second reason why schools should focus on contribution: students become more motivated and engaged through making a contribution.
[15:31] Emily and Tom’s third reason in favor of contribution: their impact on pressing issues such as climate change and AI
[20:42] Some more examples of schools where these contribution experiences are happening.
[24:00] A new project that provides a terrific entry point for contribution: The Purpose Project.
[25:45] About Getting Smart’s guidebook in collaboration with Teton Science Schools.
[26:30] Emily poses this question to listeners: Think about a memorable learning experience you’ve had (99% of the time people will share an example of a time they made a contribution!)
[27:52] The best example of contribution Tom and Emily have seen.
[28:30] How we can help aid students in contributing.
[29:31] What to follow-up on after listening to this week’s episode!

Mentioned in This Episode:

“Ask About AI,” by Getting Smart
The Kern Family Foundation 
KEEN Conference
Seth Godin

Health Leadership High School 
ACE Leadership High School 
Circulos High School (in Santa Ana) 
Gloo (Analytics for Personal Growth) 
Tess Posner of AI4ALL 
Iowa BIG 
UN Sustainable Development Goals 
Latitude High School 
Crosstown High School 
Purdue Polytechnic High School 
Design Tech High School 
Olin College 
One Stone High School 
One Stone’s One Event 
The Purpose Project 
Getting Smart’s Guidebook in collaboration with Teton Science Schools to be released in 2020 
Teton Science Schools 
Larry Rosenstock (CEO of High Tech High)
Cajon Valley Union School District
Episode 191 – Rethinking Educator Preparation: Experiential, Connected, Applied
Episode 190 – Exposing Engineering to Underrepresented Groups with Dr. Amon Millner

For more, see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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This podcast highlights developing trends in K-12 education, postsecondary and lifelong learning. Each week, Getting Smart team members interview students, leading authors, experts and practitioners in research, tech, entrepreneurship and leadership to bring listeners innovative and actionable strategies in education leadership.

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1 Comment

Jane Beckwith

We'd love to share our program, Tulsa Term, with Getting Smart. Please find out more at www.tulsaterm.org.
Thank you for all of the work you are doing at Getting Smart. We hope to hear from you.

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