We are living in a period of global transformation. It is challenging us to rethink everything: healthcare, economics, human rights, global resources, political systems, the health of the planet and education. I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but that can keep us occupied for a while.
We are living in a time of crisis. And that’s the good news. Why? One of the meanings of crisis is “turning point.” Since we can’t go on as we are, it’s a relief to think we’re finally at a turning point. But turning points and transitions from one way of life to another aren’t easy. They shake us up and wake us up. Turning points, however, do give us new opportunities to expand beyond our old selves and see our world differently.
After waking up, the next step is to listen to our hearts and choose where we want to make a difference. And once we choose where we want to serve in order to create a more loving, compassionate society, we have to figure out what to do. And we have to do it differently.
As an educator, I am well aware that American education is in a period of crisis. But are the solutions coming from a creative, enlightened view of the future or as a reaction to fear and uncertainty?
Albert Einstein said, “You can never solve a problem on the level it was created.” And Abraham Lincoln said, “The dogmas of the past are inadequate to the stormy present. We must think and act anew.”
Today’s young people are literally standing at the edge of a new era of human evolution and they are challenging us “to think and act anew.” So we must ask ourselves, “Are today’s children being educated in a way that helps them identify and use their innate gifts and talents? Are we educating them for the 21st century – a century that’s going to need creativity, collaboration, compassion, and an interconnected effort to solve global problems?
In our complex global era the rules are different. In fact things are changing so dramatically, we don’t even know the rules. Consequently, a narrow definition of intelligence, an obsession with standardized testing, a rigid curriculum, and a set body of skills, are hobbling our schools, constraining great teachers and blocking creativity.
In order to transform education for today’s children, we have to challenge many of our assumptions. We have to take a deeper look at our children and discover their gifts, their unique ways of learning, and how they relate to a rapidly changing world. The we can act wisely and create schools that are aligned with their global consciousness and evolving skills:
Characteristics of Today’s Children• Very Intuitive and creative• Increasingly seek collaboration• Like to be connected and part of the larger conversation• Less impressed by hierarchal systems• See the world as an interconnected whole• Don’t respond well to a strictly linear,compartmentalized approach to learning• Need to feel a heartfelt connection to their learning• Concerned about the environment• Want success but also personal meaning• See beyond narrow definitions of race, culture, religion,sexual preferences, gender, national boundaries• Will bypass traditional routes to achieve their dreams and goals