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edu180atl: laura deisley 5.24.12

 When a teacher can’t see why a student is stuck, or when an interface designer dismisses the 12% of the users who can’t find the ‘off’ switch… we’re seeing a failure of empathy, not a flaw in the user base. –Seth Godin

I struggled to fight back tears this morning. Our Global Studies team challenged 170 seventh grade students to design a low-cost, innovative solution to a global problem. Today, Torrey and 10 classmates were selected to pitch their ideas to an audience of parents, administrators, faculty, students and community members.  Although their 8-minute presentations were exemplary, their research and analysis thoughtfully executed, and their prototypes impressive, I was overwhelmed by their empathy. Each student designed a solution with a specific user in mind, someone whose circumstances are very different than hers and who has a fundamental human need that the students showed they understood, could feel… and wanted to solve. One young man shared with us his water filtration system, SPLASH, believing that little ideas can grow into big ones that solve problems “because everyone counts.” His tagline: One person can make a splash, but the world can make a wave.

Indeed, it is this kind of spirit that inspired us to create edu180atl- a place where individuals have dared to share, to be transparent, to struggle, to reinvent themselves. By so doing, the hallmark of a healthy community is evolving: empathy for one another. Isn’t that a fundamental condition for learning?

People may say education in Atlanta is broken. Institutionally, as a whole, maybe it is. But, I believe. I believe that this edu180atl community is designing a future for education in Atlanta built on empathy.  As educators, we refuse to accept a “flaw in our user base.”

Everyone counts.

Laura Deisley (@deacs84) is co-founder of edu180atl, a mom, a re-imagined professional turned educator, a reader, a runner…and a learner.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. So proud to be a part of this group of optimistic gorgeous educators!

    May 24, 2012
  2. Stephen G. Kennedy #

    We have to let students increasingly take charge of their own learning. And of their ownership of empathy, emotion, pain, and joy in learning at school especially. They are so smart. Over the last decades and centuries we have inadvertently, slowly, subtly usurped their ability to discover their own power to control the day — yet they know so much, adapt so rapidly, experience so richly, and support each other so powerfully. Laura, your writing captures what is crucial about learning in a student’s life. Thank you for that, and thank you for edu180atl, and thanks to all who created and nurtured it.

    May 25, 2012
  3. ds #

    If education is broken, what greater beginnings of a fix than an educator’s empathetic tears! If it is broken in Atlanta, I don’t know if it’s more, or less, broken in my far-away city with nothing like edu180atl. Good for you all.

    May 27, 2012

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  1. the edu180atl project and #180voices180stories « Toward Wide-Awakeness

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