by Marsha Rakestraw
What happens when students focus their learning and passions on real-world problems and on developing positive solutions?
They can change the world.
The Solutionary Congress idea was created by IHE president Zoe Weil, as a more practical and world-serving alternative to traditional debate forums like the popular Model U.N.
In a Solutionary Congress, teams of solutionaries –– individuals able to understand, address, and solve real-world problems –– research a community or global challenge and present meaningful, practical solutions.
This year IHE is piloting several Solutionary Congress programs in the U.S. and beyond.
Rachel Josephs is one of the teachers and humane educators piloting IHE’s Solutionary Congress program with her students in New York City.
Rachel says, “The Solutionary Congress was so exciting to me because … the curriculum that Solutionary Congress has created really speaks to systems thinking, where students learn about issues involving the environment, animals, and humans … which is absolutely essential in addressing the issues going on in our world and in significantly changing our world.”
In this brief video (1:23 min) Rachel talks about the power of student-to-student collaborating and mentoring:
Here’s a copy of the letter (mentioned in the video above) that Rachel’s students wrote to their 4th grade mentees:
Dear 4th Grade Class,
As you are starting your Solutionary Congress, we want you to know that it is all about having fun while helping change the world. We … have just begun our own Solutionary Congress projects ourselves and it has been amazing. We have learned many things and this is what we want you to know as you continue to try and find solutions for the world.
First, you must choose your khams or passion in life, something you absolutely love and it can be anything at all.
Next you must try to relate your passion to a problem in the world.
Then comes the challenging part, you must find a way to fix this problem so that it no longer exists in the world.
It sounds hard right? Well it can be but it is possible! Your solutions must be friendly to all things on earth. No matter how you try to solve a problem, you must make sure your solution does not hurt the environment, animals, people, or anything else on the earth. A Solutionary Solution must get to the source of the problem and fix it from there and not just reduce the problem. Though this sounds like hard work, it definitely can be done!
We encourage you all to take positive risks and remember your goals and passions as you begin to change the world for the better. One day you’ll look back on the changes you’ve made in the world and smile. You’ll be astonished to learn that children no matter what age can change the world!
We wish you luck on your journey to be problem solvers in the world and hope you succeed. If you fail, you must use your failures as a springboard and continue working. We hope to work with you all and get to know you all so we can all create a better world together! “Always aim for the moon, if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars!”
7th grade class
And in this video (1:06 min), Rachel shares a memorable learning moment from her Solutionary Congress program:
Find out more about IHE’s Solutionary Congress program.