The T-shirt read: “Less me. More global community.”
It struck me: Yes! That’s exactly what the world today needs.
Less me. Less you, too — no offense. Less selfies. Less “Look at me. Take my picture.” Less tweeting about yourself. Less self-absorbed, narcissistic behavior and less societal reinforcement of said behavior.
Instead, what the world needs is more people looking out at the environment that surrounds us, paying attention to the connectedness of all things.
Great thinkers through time have known this. Buddha knew this. Chief Seattle knew this. Thoreau knew this. John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, knew this too, when he wrote in 1938, “Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”
Long before the iPhone, Muir recognized the need to turn that camera outwards to look more closely at the world we are a part of. The world our children are inheriting. The world that we often find ourselves neglecting because of the pace of life today.
The T-shirt, a product of Allowance for Good, caught my eye when I saw it on a merchandise table at a screening of the documentary “Girl Rising” with four of my students a year and a half ago. Now when I wear it, I think about the meaning behind that quote as I look at all of the problems in the world today, from ISIS to Boko Haram to Ebola to the most overlooked crisis of our time, the treatment of girls around the world. And these are only some of the big problems!
When we hear about these problems, we often give up before we even start to think about solving any of them. But if we don’t, who will? The students we teach today will enter this world and they need to know how to seek solutions. As adults and educators, we have a responsibility to give kids a place to learn about these problems, discuss them, and try out possible solutions.
And that’s exactly what I LOVE about Morgan Park Academy. What we have in place here and continue to strive for is exactly that:
Less me. More global. More community.
We see it here, from our diverse student body and faculty to our global week explorations to our emphasis on student leadership and activism to our focus on service and looking outward towards a sustainable future for our children.
Maybe that’s why I liked the shirt in the first place; it struck something in my core. It is something I am searching for and I think many others are too. It is something I found in this great school and in the people I work with. It is, I believe, the reason people send their children to MPA and the reason why alumni come back year after year and continue to generously support our mission. It is that belief in our individual and collective power to make a difference in our time on this planet. And all this is, I believe, the end result of receiving a global education.
What exactly is a global education? In its very basic sense it refers to a more holistic view of the world, understanding the commonalities we share and recognizing our responsibility to help our fellow man and safeguard our planet’s future. A global student recognizes his connectedness with others and with the planet. Less me. More global community.
Because of the independent nature of our school, the small class sizes and the diversity of the student body, the teachers of Morgan Park Academy are able to discuss issues in the context of their classes. We are not tied to preparing students for multiple standardized tests. We have freedom to teach. Experiences like Project Week in the Upper School (pictured above) and Global Learners Week in the Middle School help instill in our students an appreciation for and understanding of other ways of living.
The global learner often then becomes the social entrepreneur. Our students seek opportunities to take leadership roles over causes they are passionate about, allowing them to initiate, organize, and actually create change, which is ultimately what the world needs more of: change-makers, not test takers.
In the end, the global student not only has this privilege of the global education, but with it, an obligation and a newly found desire to make their world a better place. The global education that students receive at MPA creates young people who willingly take ownership of their world and feel empowered to and inspired to make a difference.
MPA strives to create an environment reflective of the diverse world today. We strive to give young people a place to be who they are and accept others as they are. We strive to instill in our students the importance of and value that is to be found in service, without tying this necessary global practice (service to others: local, national and worldwide) to a particular religion. At MPA, we give and help because we are human. We have that in common and that is enough.
Less me. More global community. What a beautiful thought! The world needs more places like MPA.
By Colleen Amberg
Mrs. Amberg teaches English and social studies in the Middle School and is MPA’s curriculum leader for social studies. She also directs global studies for the Middle School.