Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Let's Hear the Stories

First let us acknowledge that Pink and Friedman, as others have noted, deserve credit for a lot of the thinking expressed in these articles, just as Huntington was a ground breaker over thirty years ago. I appreciate Reimers effort to be specific and identify areas to attack in the new globalism, and I imagine that we all have paused to think about what we teach in our own disciplines. My sense is that BB&N has already embraced tolerance, cultural differences, language skills, and many of the specific "deep knowledge" skills that we all value. Of course we can improve all, and that is a goal, but is this THE goal? One of the areas that is sidestepped in nearly all articles on creating a new global community is how our students act on "the new globalism." One way in which education has little changed in a century is in presenting the paths to possibilities. Many students at the end of college largely inhabit a world which offers few obvious choices. How many think that doctor, lawyer, teacher, and their parents' professions (and of course their experience in Senior Project) are the choices. These are all fine careers – I am only attempting to broaden the menu - and of  course I exaggerate, but aren't students always interested in the stories of those who have ended up in unpredictable professions? Students need to see the "paths" of adults who have found engaging work; they need to see that roads to interesting careers often twist and turn, or follow untraditional tracks. These stories are missing links, and kids need them to inspire the use of their education. Some speakers are wonderful at this. I have recently spoken with people who had fascinating stories: a man who teaches politicians to get elected (John Dean Institute), an international make-up marketer, an inspirational speaker, a go between for NGO's and higher education in Cambodia, a wolf biologist, and someone who managed investment in Latin American countries. Let us remember to save time to ask those around us – and those who visit our institution – "how did you get there?" Students need the see the trails as much as the end results.

Bill Rogers

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