If I Have The Energy

by Laura Mitic (Carmanah) featuring Mark Neufeld (Institute for Global Solutions)

Mark Neufeld, my Grade 9 English teacher has remained a mentor in my life eight years after I graduated from high school and, since then, he's also become a great friend.  In our discussions I have come to realize that the best teachers are those who are also willing to learn from their own students.

I welcomed his offer to do a guest write-up for The Jellyfish Project's blog since no one understands young minds better than someone who has dedicated their life to working with them.

Think all of your teachers are dinosaurs who don't understand you?  Hmmm... maybe not.  Check out his article, "If I Have The Energy."

I have taught, now, 22 years. Most recently I am a co-founding instructor at Claremont Secondary’s Institute for Global Solutions. Our teaching team strives to enable what we call “resilient problem-solvers”. Among the great examples of thinking I have seen have been among the teenagers I teach. My problem, and increasingly, is how adults think. So please, if you don’t mind, don’t try to convince me that developing Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is somehow a gift to our children and grandchildren. It is non-sensical. Just ask any one of the 120 students I teach. Put simply, it is building 21st century infrastructure for a 20th century fuel.

We teach our kids to look at evidence. We teach them to do the research. Consider the source. And perhaps most importantly: to think critically. In a masters’ thesis I’m finishing, I’ve suggested that this current generation of learners is the “research generation”. A very impressive community leader in Portland recently reminded my grade 12 students that they have as much computer power in their phones as the young people who landed the Apollo on the moon had in their entire command centre. These kids will not easily be fooled and I am no longer amused. 

It seems to me that 20th century problems belong to 20th century minds. I know some excellent young 21st century minds who are more than ready to think clearly and critically. My guess is, if you’re reading this post, you are one of them.

And more to the point, these young people will live the consequences of poor policy decisions. This is not to be tolerated. While the thinking, visionary, pragmatic leaders of the world increasing turn to clean energy, including, sub-Saharan African countries, are you really going to tell me the further reducing corporate taxes and changing green house gas emissions laws for only ONE of the many energy options with significant stake in the economic future of this province and this country is somehow a decision for our “grandchildren”? Please. I don’t have the energy. Fortunately, I know hundreds, if not thousands of visionary students who do (and at least five clean energies who do too if given a fair chance). And that’s energy I’m willing to share.

-Mark Neufeld, Institute for Global Solutions, Victoria, BC