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If You Want to Change the World

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School Language Arts, Social Studies, Leadership

Two Class Sessions

Students will:

  • explain and identify valuable traits necessary to have an impact on their personal habits, family, friends, school, and community

Medal of Honor Focus: Edward C. Byers Jr., U.S. Navy, War on Terror (Afghanistan) 

Introductory Activity:
Step 1: Have the students research the requirements to be a Navy SEAL and what the act of ringing the bell means.

Step 2: Have the students read aloud “If You Want to Change the World,” which was written by Admiral William McRaven, a Navy SEAL, and former commander of U.S. Special Forces. During a commencement address, Admiral McRaven counseled graduates to do these ten things if they want to change the world.

Step 3: Discuss the ten items and what students think the admiral was trying to teach the graduates by using anecdotes from his SEAL experience.

Whole Group Activity:
Show the video on Edward Byers and his actions in Afghanistan. As the students watch the video, they should think about how the ten points of Admiral McRaven’s talk relate to the mission which resulted in Edward Byers being awarded the Medal of Honor.

Small Group/Individual Activity:
Have students form small groups; hand out the worksheet. Give the students time to make connections to the six character traits, the ten points of Admiral McRaven’s speech, and the mission of the SEALs.

Concluding Activity:
Ask groups to share out what they wrote down and learned from their discussion.


Edward Byers video*, Internet access for research, worksheet

Extended Activity:
Have students watch Admiral McRaven’s full commencement speech which is available online.


* "SEAL Recounts Actions Leading to Medal of Honor" was originally published on February 26, 2016, by the U.S. Navy

Living History Video

Additional Resources