As you might know, our students are lagging behind other students in countries around the world at a very alarming rate. Here some quick facts:
- According to the College Board Advisory, the United States one lead the world in the number of college graduates. Now it is ranked 12th among 36 industrial nations. That is a severe threat to the economic future of our country.
- The US is a distant number 12 out of 14 in high school graduation. Countries such as Denmark, Japan, Poland, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, and France are leading the pack in disproportional numbers.
- High School dropout rate in some areas of this great country is over FIFTY percent.
- Up to fifty percent of our students are enrolling in college as “undecided.”
- SEVENTY FIVE percent of all our students change their major at least once before graduation.
Just type any of those facts in Google, and you’ll find credible sites with those numbers. You’ll agree with me that based on the way our young people are behaving, those numbers will continue to decline.
Our students need help to find a sense of purpose, meaning, direction and passion. They need a wake-up call.
The Identity Crisis
The main problem here is an identity crisis. Most of the today’s students suffer from low self-esteem. Simply put, they think less of themselves and they have no idea who they really are and what they are capable of.
The number one craving for every human being on the face of this planet is the need to be significant or important. And people will do ANYTHING to get that.
Whether it’s Mother Theresa feeding the poor in Calcutta or the serial killer behind bars, it’s all about the need to be significant or important. Of course, the ultimate aim is to be happy.
Unfortunately, some of our young people are taking the wrong path to find significance. They look for it through destructive and violent behaviors. As a result, more students are behaving like bullies. Others are totally disengaged and indifferent.
Needless to say, there’s a growing sense of urgency for change. We MUST individually and collectively do something FAST to tackle those issues. It’s our duty. It’s our gift to this generation. We cannot hand over the helm of the ship (our country) with their current attitude and mindset.
Let’s start a movement to help them tap into their inner power and potentials… to help them find meaning, purpose, and significance through the right avenues.
The Future Belongs To Them!
Our young people are 100% the future. That’s a fact. Our students are supposed to be the generation that comes up with a cure for cancer, diabetes, and the devastating diseases that are plaguing the world.
They are supposed be the generation that finds the solutions to our most pressing problems.
Currently, a billion people in the world don’t have access to safe drinking water. About 2.6 billion others lack access to basic sanitation. We can transform polluted and salt water, even raw sewage, into high-quality drinking water for those people.
This generation is called upon to be the doctors, architects, scientists, and engineers to do so. The world is about to go through another radical transformation. Once again, how we communicate and live are about to shift drastically.
The reality is all these technological, scientific and medical breakthroughs will happen in the next 20 or 30 years. Other countries are preparing and training their young people to step up and take charge. What about us?
Isn’t it time to inspire and motivate our kids to see the limitless possibilities that are available to them in spite of their current situation? They answer is, YES!
We already have the advantages and the infrastructures to help this generation catch up and once again lead the world. We can do it. More importantly, we need to let them know that they are playing on a leveled field.
The so-called economically disadvantaged kids can catch up and thrive. They have access to the right technologies. They have what it takes. They can rise above their circumstances. How do I know?
Well, I was the kid who climbed out of the pit of poverty and diseases in an isolated village in Haiti to seize the American Dream. That’s how I know it’s possible. In a moment, I will tell you more about my story.
But, for now, let’s talk about the one thing we must address first.
The Age Of Mass Distractions
While it’s easy to blame teachers, we should look into the real issue. We are indeed living in the age of what I call mass distractions, which is causing mass destructions.
It’s very difficult to grab our students’ attention. Think of what the teachers are competing within the classrooms. We are talking about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and online Video Gaming.
Most of those distractions keep them awake late at night. And during the day, they have very little to stay alert and present in the classroom. Some of them barely drag themselves to make it to school.
In addition to all that, there are countless television shows that are captivating the attention of our young people. Companies in the US spend about $250 billion every year on advertising to push some 900,000 different brands. Most of those ads are designed to persuade, influence, and distract our young people.
All of those things combined create what I can the force that is raging a fierce battle every day to keep our youth distracted. It seems as though they are not fighting against that force. They have surrendered and gave up a long time ago.
What’s worth noting here is that those kids that appear disconnected, and disengaged are often some of our brightest and most promising children. But they are under the grips of the force.
By the way, those games and television shows are exciting and thrilling. The school would have to be that exciting and thrilling to compete for our kids’ attention.
Think about it this way. Those weapons of mass distractions are generating bigger problems.
By the time a kid reaches 18 years old, he or she is already exposed to about 200,000 acts of violence on television alone. We are not taking into consideration all the violent acts in the video games.
The media’s slogan is, “If it leads, it bleeds.” They tend over dramatize acts of violence on television and newspapers. As you might imagine, that breathes more violent behaviors. As they say, “Monkey see, monkey do.”
I have to admit that those weapons of distractions are not evil in and of themselves. I love technology. I am an early adopter. I have lots of new gadgets. They help me to stay productive. The truth of the matter is, technology helps more than it hurts.
Think about it this way; a kid in my village can use his or her cell phone to call someone to inquire about what’s selling on the street where the peasants gather. That means before plucking the avocados or the mangos, they can call a friend to find out about supply and demand.
That same kid can now learn multiple languages with a simple app. They can download educational apps and master any subject. That puts them neck and neck with any kid anywhere on the continent. Granted their internet access is not as available as in developed countries. But that, too, will change soon.
So, when we talk about the devastating impact technology is having on our society, we are talking about evil people. Well, those people would do evil anyway. They would use whatever technology available to do evil be it a sword, machetes, and the likes.
Can We Reinvent The Classrooms?
Perhaps we should rephrase the question. Can we repurpose technology and the Internet to engage and teach our students so we can reinvent the classrooms of today?
I ask this question not because I claim to have the answers. It’s rather to explore the possibilities together. Although at gut level it looks like we can do it.
There are many debates floating out there about this topic. They sound great. However, we know as adults, it’s a mistake to interrupt our flow in the middle of a project to go search for supporting data on the Internet. Why?
It’s because two hours later, you may find yourself cruising the Internet doing something that is irrelevant to your search. Why would it be different for our students?
I have not yet seen how Facebook or Twitter can be used in the classroom without being a distraction. Although I see how they can be used to communicate and accelerate progress between students and teachers. But not without being distractive.
But, let’s take that debate to our kids. It seems to me that if we engage them in critical thinking and problem solving, they will tell us what we can do to solve these problems. Let’s ask them instead of assuming.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
If we ask our students the right questions, we can certain fire up their imagination and creativity.
Without sounding too simplistic, the solutions to all our problems lie in the persistent questions we ask. Let’s ask them.
Now, I’m very aware that teachers have to hurry up and go through the curriculum. They are expected to cram enough information in the students’ brain so they can pass the tests. NCLB or No Child Left Behind forces teachers to what is called “teaching to the test.”
We are not equipping our students with critical thinking and problem solving skills to enter today’s workforce.
Although I don’t encourage it, I know a student who rarely studies and does his homework. Yet, he is a straight A student. Why? It’s because his creative thinking and problem solving skills are very high.
Now, let’s talk about the disadvantaged kids. We know that…
Everyone Endowed With Greatness
We know that talents and gifts have no barriers or frontiers. Unless one is mentally impaired, we can all tap into our greatness. Admittedly, we don’t all have the same loving and nurturing environment to inspire us to greater and bigger things in life. But it remains a fact that greatness is neutral. It plays no favorite.
The economically disadvantaged and the underprivileged young people need guidance in order to unleash their greatness. They need role models. They need someone to point them in the right directions.
They need to know that they matter and they have what it takes to rise and shine. They need the affirmation that greatness lives on the inside of them. They need to know who they really are and what they are capable of.
Let’s start with your school. I want to join forces with you to make the unbelievable believable. Let’s transform your students into possibility thinkers. The possibilities in this great country are limitless. And they are within reach of everyone.
My story is proof that anyone can unleash their potentials regardless of their circumstances.
If I Can, They Can, Too
I have audacity to believe anyone can be more, have more, and do more. In fact, I go beyond believing. I know. I Let me share with you why.
Before I proceed, let me mention that my story is not that of every Haitian. The rich and opulent people in the country are not in touch with the reality you will read next. Now on with the story…
My journey started in an impoverished village on the Island of Haiti. I was extremely poor and severely sick. Most of the people in the village wrote me off. They predicted that I would not survive. They called me names and teased me often.
I was basically a loner in the village. I experienced what Joseph Campbell calls the dark nights of the soul.
My mother left me behind with a neighbor when I was only 9 months old. She was not a bad mother. But she had to go the city—Port-au-Prince—to find a better way to provide for me.
When I became aware of surrounding, I was already climbing coconut, mango and avocado trees for survival.
My toys came from the ocean. When the developed countries would dump their garbage into the ocean, the plastic toys would surface and bond with the seaweeds.
The wind would blow them across the Caribbean villages during the summer months. That is to say my Christmas toys always arrived in June or July.
At the age of seven, I left the village to reunite with my mother. For some reason, I thought poverty was going to be over for me in the city. But, I was wrong. In Port-au-Prince, my mama lived in a little shack infested with rats and roaches. I had a sister and brother whom I met when I arrived in the city.
We would all slept on some ragged and dirty sheets on the dirt floor. The rats and the roaches would crawl over us all night. On some occasions, I would wake up to discover the rats would nibble the bottom of my feet.
The neighborhood was very sinister. It seems as though the people had a sign of discouragement and resignation on their foreheads. I was a kid. But I remember the mental programming. They reminded me often that the life I was having was it. There was no need to hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.
But, through it all, one older lady inspired me to dare to break away from the herd and believe I had greatness inside of me.
Her name was Tati Da. She lived next door. She was my angel. One day, I was really hungry. Mama had nothing to feed us. I went to Tati Da crying uncontrollably. I said to her, “Life was not fair. How come I have to struggle so much? Why it is Mama never have enough to feed us? I don’t think I will ever be anything in life. That’s the message I hear from the people all the time.”
I never forgot her answer. Tati Da held my hands and with a penetrating and caring stare, she said, “That’s a lie. Don’t let anyone predict your future. You are full of promises. You will rise to be a powerful person. Your name will mean something a lot to many people.
You will travel in faraway countries to make a difference in many lives. You will never have to worry about food. You will always have an abundant supply of it. You are a bundle of possibilities. Live up to it. Believe it. Where you are is NOT who you are. You are bigger than your circumstances. Study hard. Work hard. Surround yourself with the right people. The day will soon come when these words will be true.”
Tati Da was just as poor as anyone in the neighborhood. But, she had the foresight and vision to paint a promising future for me. She shifted my thinking from dismal poverty to limitless possibilities. We all the power to do so.
It’s about 40 years ago since she uttered those prophetic words. Today, they still ring true in my ear. These are the same words that I share with young people all around the world through my speeches, online videos, and newsletters.
At the age of 21, I entered the United States with two shirts, one pair of pants and five dollars in a tiny and battered suitcase. I did not speak any English. I did exactly what Tati Da told me. I worked and studied really hard.
Learning English was the toughest mountain I had to climb in this country. It was so frustrating just trying to utter the simplest words. Many people made fun of me when I would open my mouth to speak. Some people assumed I was not intelligent because I could not express myself.
With sheer determination and a spirit that would not quit, I set out to learn English. I did so one word at time. I bought children’s books with pictures so I can learn faster. Every day, I would write three words on my hand for memorization. At the end of the week, I would review my words.
As soon as I was able to read English, I started reading as if reading was going out of style. I read hundreds of books about business, personal development, and psychology. The amazing thing is, the quality of my life began to improve in direct proportion to my learning.
Today, I’m living the American Dream. I get all over North America to share my message of No Condition is Permanent! There’s no reason why anyone should live in this great country of plenty empty.
I don’t think there’s any other country in the world that would give me the opportunities to do what I do. However, there are millions that have the same opportunities yet they refuse to seize them.
My vision is to empower and inspire this generation with a sense of pride to lead the United States to the top so we can remain a beacon for the world.
Let’s start with your school. In spite of the way some of your students are behaving, they are amazing kids full of promises. We need to let them know who they really are.
Let’s affirm them. Let’s stir some positive emotions in them so they can rise and be who they were meant to be. Let’s remind of the kind of country they are inheriting so they can carry on and build upon the previous generations.
Feel free to call my direct line. Let’s have a meaningful conversation about how I can join forces with you to make a difference and a lasting impact on your students.