The power of collective action in creating a large-scale, sustainable change cannot be overstated.
My observations and experiences within the social sector and in any setting that has the potential to create profound impact on people have led me to conclude that experiences, such as the Teach For India Fellowship, offer a unique opportunity for individuals to answer five specific questions:
- How is the individual growing/impacting/developing?
- What is the impact on or the perception of his or her immediate circle of friends, peers and colleagues?
- How is the organisation benefitting from the individual’s actions?
- How do the end beneficiaries benefit? These could be stakeholders such as customers or vendors.
- How do the individual’s actions lead to a better society or a nation?
Studies and research in various contexts also seem to indicate the need for organisations and workplaces to provide the enabling conditions for employees to feel that their actions are contributing in ways more than one and are positively impacting themselves, people around them and the world at large.
A recent, internally conducted survey at Teach For India, that consisted of 74 candidates who were admitted to the Fellowship programme in 2017 revealed that many of them (~65%) joined out of a desire to work for a larger purpose – be it bringing about educational reform, social change, or for realising a sense of fulfillment.
Studies on millenials indicate that they look to lead holistic lives.
Picture for representation only. Source: UnSplash
This means living in a way that enables them to grow and develop and contribute positively to the world. It also means nurturing a sense of belonging to a network or a community that has an inspiring purpose. Teaching combines that purpose, and has the power to bring together a community for advancement and positive impact on the world through quality education.
A Fellow, for example, not only has the opportunity to connect with his or her beneficiaries everyday (students they teach, the communities that the students come from, the schools they attend and other teachers in the schools) but is also part of a large, growing network, that is striving to achieve a shared purpose – which is educational equity in TFI’s case. The belief that this will transform the country and the society gets deeply ingrained, given the intensity of the two-year experience, and the level of immersion it entails.
I believe that it is critical to get all five aspects right to build an engaged, vibrant community of teachers, leaders and changemakers. In my opinion, this extends to any context where people and leadership are key, and collective action is the bedrock. As technology shrinks the world and as complex problems such as education, poverty and climate change get more interconnected, building a movement of people that goes through a life-defining leadership experience and stays committed to the cause is possibly a game changer.
Millennials – given their orientation and motivation, are the right people to bring about this change, and form a community of teachers and educational leaders, who, through their collective leadership and belief in impact, drive change in a sustainable, long-term movement.
(Written by Shyaam Subramanian)
The Teach For India (TFI) Fellowship is a two-year leadership development programme for people who have the passion and commitment to the vision of educational equity in India. Applications for the 2019-2021 Teach For India Fellowship Programme are now open.