Are You A Classroom Changemaker?

How do we help children to grow up to be empathetic, creative and community-oriented leaders?

We do it by empowering all young people to be changemakers.

What is a changemaker?

A changemaker is someone with a specific mindset who uses their ‘outside voice’ to bring about an improvement in the way we live our lives. This is not a silo operator but a team player committed to working with others to help others and contribute to change in positive ways. They focus on the eco-system not the ego-system.

They are pioneers, hidden champions, unicorns and underdogs who deliberately go out to disrupt the system to make it better (Greeven et al, 2019).

‘Changemaker’ is a term coined by the social entrepreneurship organisation, Ashoka, and refers to someone who wants to see a change in the world and, by gathering knowledge and resources, makes that change happen.

Changemakers are a source of social evolution and everyone has the potential to be one.

According to Rahman, Herbst and Scheu (2016),

“Changemakers are school children in Haiti creating new traffic safety systems, American truckers preventing human trafficking, and Nobel Peace Prize winners bringing banking to Bangladesh and fighting for child rights in India. They can come from anywhere in the world, they can come from any sector, and most importantly, they can have any political leaning.”

What are the qualities needed to be a changemaker?

According to changemaker Benita Matofska, there are 6 key traits that ‘”define the anatomy of changemakers”. They are:

  1. Sharers: these are collaborative team-players who ‘get’ and understand that everyone benefits when we share what we have and provide equal access to resources.
  2. Brave: changemakers think about things differently and take the path less travelled. They re-invent the rules and are mavericks.
  3. Adaptable: they edit and change, they make mistakes and learn to adapt when things don’t work. They experiment and innovate.
  4. Love: changemakers love and care about the world and consider the impact they can have.
  5. Positive: they take a solutions-focused approach to challenges and they are relentlessly positive and optimistic that they can make a difference.
  6. Future-thinking: changemakers always see the bigger picture and recognise there are no quick fixes.

In her book Generation Share, Matofska takes us on a journey around the world to meet the people who are changing and saving lives by building a Sharing Economy.

According to Rahman et al (2016), there are three core characteristics a changemaker needs to have:

  1. Empathy – changemakers don’t focus on themselves, they look outwards and care about the greater good. They pinpoint a problem or issue and then get on a do something about it with a relentless tenacity.
  1. Connected – changemakers identify something that personally resonates and feel connected to. This is something they genuinely care about. They are part of the community, they don’t parachute in.
  1. Intrapreneurs – changemakers are working within a system that requires an improvement and so they are best placed to understand and solve a problem. They are insiders who understand the mechanics of their own environments.

And so, what about the changemakers in education itself? Who are the classroom changemakers, people making a difference to the lives of other teachers and students? Who are making micro-innovations and doing things differently?

Nesta’s Classroom Changemakers award programme recognises 15 inspirational teachers who have developed new ways to give young people the chance to get creative and solve problems in Maths and Computer Science lessons and this is well worth taking a look at.

And what about Changemaker Schools? Do they exist?

Yes! Ashoka’s Changemaker Schools aspire to create a world where all children are empathetic leaders, capable of working in teams to solve problems for the good of all.


Identify, deploy and champion changemakers and understand why it is critical to do so in Jo Steen’s book The Change Maker Effect.

Laurie Ann Thompson’s book Be a Changemaker will empower you with the confidence and knowledge you need to affect real change.

Master the three Ps of personal development in The Changemaker Mindset: How Innovation and Change Start with Inner Transformation by Ilja Grzeskowitz

The Changemaker by Deke Copenhaver aims to inspire and empower us to embrace adversity, rely on creativity and character, and sometimes take the road less travelled in order to unlock our ultimate potential.

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