“Youth are in the passenger seat of their education. Not in the driver’s seat. As a young person, my thoughts and opinions are often overlooked. I am told every step of the way what I am supposed to learn and do to become successful someday. I don’t get to pursue the things I am really interested in. I am told “someday.” But I am learning and living now. If we can change the perspectives and actions of adults, then young people would feel like they are living and not just existing in someone else’s world. They would feel like they are a full human being and not just a teenager."
When was the last time you really listened to a young person about learning and education? Listened with a deeply curious mind? Kept asking more and more questions to get an understanding of their desires and perspectives? Not the kind of listening where we know what we will hear. Not the kind laden with assumptions about “what they don’t know.” You might be surprised by what you hear. And even more surprised to learn what happened when we acted in direct alignment with what our teens expressed as their desires and needs. Imagine putting young people in the driver’s seat of their learning, with us adults moving to the passenger seat. Scary? Maybe. But the outcomes might surprise you.
Mark Murphy is the founder of GripTape, an initiative at the nonprofit America Achieves to empower youth, helping them to become drivers of their educational advancement and seize great opportunities to grow, lead and serve. Before joining America Achieves, Mark served as Delaware's secretary of education. During his tenure, K-12 academic achievement improved significantly, college course access and success rates soared, high school dropout rates reached the lowest level in history and the graduation rate grew at a record pace and to a record high. Mark has also spent a considerable amount of his career directly developing and supporting hundreds of school leaders across the country as the Executive Director of multiple organizations. Mark’s contributions across the country are significant, and he has served on many boards, including the Council of Chief State School Officers and Chiefs for Change. He began his career as a teacher, and then went on to lead the dramatic turnaround of a low performing school. Mark’s true passion is guiding our children to uncover their often hidden potential to achieve and lead, and that begins with his partner and wife, Erika, as they support and guide their own children, Evan and Maddie.
Nigeria was a Challenger in the first-ever GripTape Learning Challenge! As her topic of choice, she learned about advertising and marketing and single-handedly coordinated a photoshoot as part of her learning journey. Through the Learning Challenge, she examined how advertising works for businesses and effective ways of branding an organization. Nigeria also recently joined the GripTape youth leadership board as the 9th member. The board is responsible for governing and decision making of GripTape as an organization. She is also a high school student and is involved in multiple extracurricular activities, including The Future Project at her school.
If you would like to learn more about April’s Hot Lunch with GripTape, you can view their Hot Lunch slide deck.