Our goal is to provide a roadmap for school transformation to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Our title “Education to Save the World” is not trying to be cheeky. We know what’s at stake and we think schools can make a big difference.
From The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge, et al:
- More than a third of the world’s forests have disappeared in the past fifty years.
- Over 70% of the world’s fisheries are chronically overfished.
- Many diseases (including many cancers) have become far more prevalent due to toxins in everyday products like food and children’s toys.
- From 1980 to 2000 the bottom quartile of the world’s people saw their share of global income fall from 2.5% to 1.2%.
- Approximately 500 million chronically underemployed people currently live in squatter camps and slums and it increases by 50 million each year.
Pair those with these from Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner:
- U.S. employers rate creativity/innovation among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five years.
- 69% of senior business executives in 12 countries agreed ‘today innovation is more driven by people’s creativity than by high-level scientific research’.
- 77% agreed, ‘the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be those that helped to address human needs more than those that created the most profit’.
From the same book:
- Many young people are deeply worried about the future of the planet, seek healthier lifestyles and want to make a difference more than they want to make money.
- Most have no desire to climb the corporate ladder and wait twenty years to do something interesting or worthwhile. They have dreams and ambitions that demand time and space – and active nurturing.
Now, put those facts next to these:
- 50% of kids report being bored in school every day
- 30% of U.S. students drop out of high school.
- 54% of students who start college do not complete it.
Hmmm…Is it just us who think this simply doesn’t add up? Let’s see…
The world is falling apart.
Businesses want creativity and ideas that address human needs.
Today’s young people want to do something meaningful. Now.
Meanwhile kids are bored and opting out of school in droves.
So…what does this mean our schools should look like?
Close your eyes and picture this. Just kidding, you can’t read with your eyes closed! 🙂
Picture a school organized around real-world problems that require the flexible application of each subjects’ concepts and skills with an eye toward identifying and developing kids’ passions. There is a combination of structure and “free play”. Students engage in a variety of experiences that ask them to contribute to building a healthy, sustainable and just world. Wow. Read it again and really picture it. Please.
They’re probably not in desks in rows in 50-minute blocks of time, are they?
High School Example
|Students brainstorm, choose and implement solutions for reducing their impact on the local environment, exploring concepts of ecosystems (science), counting and comparing numbers (math), and interdependence (all disciplines).||Students choose an environmental or health situation they frame then brainstorm, select and implement solutions exploring concepts of advanced science and math (e.g. renewable energy solutions for a major company, reducing infant mortality in a developing nation).||Students constantly reflect on their work according to intellectual standards, disciplinary concepts and practices and reflect on which parts were the most rewarding for them, ranking projects based on their interests and passions.|
|Students read two stories about a disagreement between two friends, explain why there could be different views on same situation, then assume the role of a peer mediator to help them sort it out, exploring concepts of fairness (Social Studies), responsibility (SS) and perspective (Language Arts).||Students choose and analyze a real-world situation of civil strife and brainstorm, recommend and publish solutions based on fairness, responsibility and perspective (e.g. Mali, Spain, Tibet).||Curriculum is vertically aligned to increase in complexity especially around key disciplinary concepts and ways of thinking; students brainstorm and constantly refine their thinking about what makes a sustainable, healthy and just world.|
If you are an educator or parent use these two tools to help young people to find their passions. They are both designed for older kids or adults but you can select certain questions or change the wording to suit younger children.
Your thoughts (post in the comments section below):
What is your primary concern about the state of the world and would a school organized like this help?