Mark Zuckerberg took a big step toward joining the pantheon of mega-philanthropists. Rumor has it that his supersized donation was inspired by the film "Waiting for Superman". In it, Bill Gates, is highlighted as a key player in saving our teetering public school system. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hundreds of millions of dollars is steered towards education.
Today, Zuckerberg reached for his wallet and I applaud where he decided to spend his growing fortnue. The public schools need his $100 million and a whole lot more.
Although today’s cable news cycle will be stuffed with analysis of Zuckerberg’s intentions and long-term plans; I find myself wondering about another important question…
How should Newark Public Schools spend the money?
Of course there are teacher salaries, textbooks, computer labs, and band equipment to cover but is this really the best place to spend it?
Or, should we think outside the box a bit? Here’s my suggestion…
Take a portion of the donation and spend it on teaching students how to blog about social causes they care about. It’s much more interesting than most high school English literature classes and will instill a skill that will pay dividends for a lifetime.
Our little social media investment would work like this:
1. Have students pick 10 (maybe more) charities that could receive a donation from the Facebook windfall.
2. The public schools could assemble a committee to create 10 blogs dedicated to raising awareness of these charitable causes.
3. Everyday, students would write blog posts that bring attention (and more funding) for their chosen causes
4. Students can participate no matter what their talent may be. Artists can help design the graphics, coding ninjas can keep the backend humming, writers can write and mentor others, photographers can post pics on Flickr, the videophone kids can rock YouTube.
5. Field Trips, Senior Day, and other outings can be focused on getting the kids out into the community working with the selected charities. And, of course, they can blog about their experiences.
Blogging is much more than just writing a 300 word post. It forces writers to connect on a human level with their subjects. Empathy, authenticity, and action are required for success. Not coincidentally, these are also the skills needed to thrive in the new Social Economy. Perhaps, using a social media titan’s money to teach other’s how to be social leaders is not so far-fetched as it sounds.
Is teaching kids how to blog about their passions a good idea? Or is this another feel-good kumbaya program that wouldn't make a difference? Talk to me and I'll talk right back