The Genesis Project Episode Twenty-Seven

Jim and Shirley were intrigued that the next interview was taking place at the local middle school rather than at the headquarters. They were to meet with a teacher by the name of Ellen after the school day was done.

After a brief introduction, Shirley described what they were doing. “I’m not sure why Grace asked us to meet with you, but we are really interested in your classes.”

“I know why you are confused. When my husband took a job with Grace’s organization, I couldn’t get a teaching job in the area. I took a job with Grace and her team and worked with them until a teaching position opened up. I was there when all of the innovation efforts began. And my husband has kept me up-to-date on them since then.”

“I teach History, one of the least exciting subjects for students moving into their teens. Kids just aren’t that interested in the past. As I was pouring out my frustrations to my husband one night at dinner, he asked me one of your famous why questions: Why don’t you use what we are doing where I work? It’s worked for us.”

“That was the catalyst I needed. I started a why question challenge. Each student brings a why question to each class to challenge me. My classes have essentially been structured around the student’s questions.”

Jim asked, “Can you still cover what’s required that way?”

“Surprisingly yes. The why questions are essentially opening for what I would cover anyway. But since I’m answering students’ questions, it makes the material more interesting.”

 “I’ve also adopted the trivia question approach, and again that helps build engagement. Jim, maybe you can help me understand this. When I present a fact, it seems to be ignored when I challenge with a trivia question on the same fact, they are excited. Why is that?”

 “Good question. Our brains pay more attention to the unexpected. When you pose something as a trivia question, it creates a brain sense of unexpected.”

 “Finally, I use stories of people who made real contributions during a period of history I’m covering. Shirley, I hope you don’t mind that I use a lot of the stories you gave to Grace to share with her team.”

 “I’m delighted and honored. Do the stories connect with this age group?”

 “They do. I can tell that they are shifting mindsets from the here and now to possibilities of who they might become.”

 Both Shirley and Jim left the interviews with an increased appreciation of the ripple effects of the project they had initiated.

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Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” – Dalai Lama  

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