On those happy occasions when I actually get to the gym, I often wonder about all that sweat & effort going nowhere – why not link the treadmills and machines to generators to power the place and do some planetary good? Similarly I wonder about all those the intellectual heavy lifting in education – why not put those projects and assignments to some social good and make someone’s life better? Especially here in the developing world.
So, applying this idea I gave an additional project to an in-company course to make an ‘impact for good’ while learning about project management and teamwork. Result – $60000 usd equivalent in 3 weeks, 17 tents for the national blood transfusion service, an irrigation system to make an HIV orphanage self-sufficient and one or two bursaries to give a talented and poor student a chance at a degree. Then 500 person-days of senior/middle executive time applied to 10 NGO’s ranging from Aids, orphanages, building houses, literacy education, fetal alcohol syndrome, free education, incubating township entrepreneurs, developing new vc methods adapted to developing countries etc.
Now, on an MBA elective 60+ MBA students are finding ways to learn creativity, design and strategy by creating real good for real people in real time, considering projects from carbon footprint reduction, tree planting, fashion shows to raise funds for entrepreneurs, building houses in a day etc.
So now I am convinced it works. Education and upliftment can work together, paying it forward while paying it back. And the beauty of it is that it seems to increase motivation, learning and effort and provide a lifetime memory for the learners too – often starting them in new directions. I’m hoping you will try it too and we can start a new movement to humanize and energize education.