There has been an amazing change in the videos that are shared and go viral on the internet. Five years ago YouTube was the America’s Funniest Home Videos of the internet. Now, my inbox is more likely to be filled with videos like Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing education paradigms or Sugata Mitra’s The child-driven education than videos of herding cats. Over the last two weeks, few videos have been as widely shared on the internet as Joel Burns‘ video “it gets better”.
This video is powerful on many levels, but it does an amazing job of highlighting how video is changing our world. A former colleague of mine from Coquitlam nicely described this, saying there is “nothing more powerful than this marriage of technology with speaking from the heart.” Ten years ago this speech would have been an amazing powerful experience for those in attendance at the Forth Worth City Council that night. Some would have gone away, talked with family and friends of what they saw and heard, but it would not have been the same. Maybe local cable TV would have aired the council meeting, and a few hundred more people would have seen the video. As I write this blog post, about 2.5 million people have watched the video on YouTube and because of its popularity on YouTube, a number of national shows have taken the issue and the video, and have brought it into millions of more living rooms, dinner conversations, and water-cooler discussions around the world.
Of course, at its core, it gave voice and hope to students who feel so alone and so isolated that they contemplate suicide. It also provides a real, timely resource for families, schools and others.
So there are many lessons for our schools. One is absolutely about technology. It is just a tool, but it can amplify heart and character. We need to empower students to have voice, and show them that voice can become influence. And video, is changing the game.
I would be remiss in closing the post without coming back to the content of Joel’s video. The topic he raises is one so many of us in education think about. The BCTF has a number of resources to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth (LGBTQ) issues in schools available here, and the Ministry of Education has school supports available here.