Many folks are concerned that schools today are mostly about churning out worker bees for uncaring corporations who are more than happy to chew up employees and spit them out in favor of others, perhaps overseas, who are cheaper. Like Mike Parent, my guest blogger this week, they are worried about mission statements like that of the The New Jersey High School Redesign Steering Committee, which states that it is 'working to build public awareness and support for a more rigorous high school experience, one that allows students to succeed in the workforce or in pursuing higher education.'
I'm not one of those people. Although I, too, want my children to be happy, creative, caring, self-directed, intellectually curious, and environmentally aware, I also want them to be contributing members to society. And, if they decide to challenge certain statuses quo, I want them to have the tools to be able to do that successfully. I think that means preparing them to be powerfully productive in the technology-suffused, globally-interconnected future in which they're going to live. If they can't play, work, thrive, and influence others in that world, they're going to be marginalized, impotent outsiders.
So, with all due respect to Clay Burell, I see Did You Know? 2.0 as a conversation starter for how the world is changing around us but, like Karl Fisch, I don't see it as an overt call for preparing students solely for economic competitiveness. Nor do I think it is fair to label William Farren's excellent Did You Ever Wonder? video as a 'vital counterpoint' to the issues in the Did You Know? video. I see no reason why equipping students with 21st century skills is in opposition to preparing them to be ecologically-responsible citizens. In fact, a strong argument could be made that it is only by equipping our students with 21st century skills that they will be in a position to solve the massive problems that we are bestowing upon them.
Collins and Porras note that we should be embracing the 'genius of the and' rather than the 'tyranny of the or.' I agree. I will be preparing my children to be productive 21st century citizens and employees. I will be preparing my children to be environmentally-aware and economically-productive. I am hoping and, indeed, counting on many others doing the same.