Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Global challenges demand new focus on certain skills

I was struck by this phrase from Howard Gardner in the intro to the "Preparing Our Youth" article:

What is needed more than ever is a laser-like focus on the kinds of human beings that we are raising...  if we are to have a globe worth inhabiting, we must attend unflinchingly to the kinds of human beings that will inhabit it, and the ways in which they deal with one another under often trying circumstances.

I think we've always been concerned with ensuring students have good critical thinking and problem-solving skills, but now we need to add something more to that basic mission.... we need graduates who have empathy for the world's global challenges. This is a tall order, but I think the stakes are too high to ignore this need. From global climate change to the growing socio-economic divide and political polarization, I feel like it is incumbent upon us to consider our role in preparing our students to face, and overcome, these challenges. I don't think we can leave it to a small piece of our social studies curriculum, I think we need to address it in a much more comprehensive way. It seems to me that the citizens and leaders of tomorrow will need special skills and competencies to take on these challenges. Empathy, collaboration, critical thinking,  entrepreneurial thinking, and grit all come to mind. Others have made a similar point below. How do we gather our energy on this topic, and where do we go from here, moving this into the realm of action?

~ Demetri

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