Changing the world vicariously…

Seven of the eight seniors managed to make it to school the day after their Capstone Projects. They now breathe sighs of relief and offer advice to the seniors scheduled for April.
Seven of the eight seniors managed to make it to school the day after their Capstone Projects. They now breathe sighs of relief and offer advice to the seniors scheduled for April.

Do you remember the Faberge Organics shampoo commercials from the 1980s? It boasted the simple premise of the doubling effect; one girl uses the shampoo and likes it and tells two friends, who tell two friends, who tell two friends, “and so on and so on and so on…” One shampooer evangelizing the world for Faberge.

It’s a great marketing scheme — and one that works in the spiritual world too. I remember being taught that principal of “spiritual multiplication” when I was part of Campus Crusade for Christ as a college student. It was a method to influence much more than the people around me.

But my latest activity is far better than Faberge’s doubling effect or even Crusade’s multiplication. It is a multilevel marketing plan for changing the world — and I do it while I’m teaching.

If I as a teacher get credit for the positive things my students do, then I have hit the credit jackpot. It’s a little thing called the Capstone Project, a requirement for every graduating senior at my school. Until last year, it was just the culminating learning experience in which the student chose a field of interest and taught him- or herself. Projects ran the gamut — from coaching and survival camping to alligator hunting and flying a plane. Most were worthy projects in some regard, but last year, we included the requirement that students “change the world in some way.”

That has changed my world — and my perception of my role in it.

This year our small school has 24 graduating seniors; 8 of those students completed their Capstone Projects Monday night. When they were challenged to change the world in some way, a few had an immediate idea as to how they could accomplish that; most didn’t. What followed was a mad scramble to decide on a project, create a plan and complete it (along with a 5,000-word paper and a presentation in front of family, friends, students, and a panel of a judges) all within this first semester of their senior year; 16 students have until April to finish theirs.

Here’s how my multilevel marketing plan works:

  • I recruit students to complete Capstone Projects to change the world. (It helps that this is a graduation requirement, and I am the guiding teacher.)
  • Each looks for a problem or need and comes up with a plan to help; each completes all the work; each considers the results and how to champion the cause further.
  • These students then create slideshows and speeches, which they give in front of an audience of 150 — who are challenged to take up their causes to continue changing the world.
  • Those 150 challenged individuals then get out and change the world. (And then they tell two friends, and they tell two friends…)
  • And so on and so on and so on.

While I sit back and watch. (Well, I do a bit of encouragement, a lot of grading, and offer some guidance too.) Essentially, I vicariously change the world through my students’ actions. Vicariously, this is what I’ve done in just one semester:

  • tutored and developed influential relationships with low-income students in a housing development
  • organized a fund-raising Wii MarioKart tournament to raise money for a homeless shelter, where “I” also served
  • planned a dance party and an informational campaign about the water crisis and through those — plus by pledging “my” birthday — raised thousands of dollars for charity: water
  • developed original music proclaiming the message of the Gospel and my own testimony, produced a demo, and played musical gigs in various places to be a light in the darkness
  • organized a horse show and silent auction to aid in the fight against breast cancer and raised $4986
  • prodded “my” church into action by making members aware of widows’ needs
  • and explored the negative ramifications of social media and enlisted students to join “me” on a weeklong fast

And I have 16 more students changing the world this spring! That’s a lot of vicarious world changing on my part. But though I’m sure I’ll get credit for this multilevel marketing scheme for changing the world, it’s not the only world changing I plan to do. My students have inspired me. I was one of that audience of 150.

“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).


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