Take a look at this Educational Manifesto, created by a group of educational reformers and leaders and published in The Washington Post.
As an educational reformer myself, I read this manifesto with great interest. There were parts I agreed with strongly. Such as this:
“It’s time for all of the adults — superintendents, educators, elected officials, labor unions and parents alike — to start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children. Because right now, across the country, kids are stuck in failing schools, just waiting for us to do something. So, where do we start? With the basics. As President Obama has emphasized, the single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents’ income — it is the quality of their teacher.”
“The quality of their teacher.” Indeed.
“To start acting like we are responsible for the future of our children.” Indeed.
But interestingly, the paragraph that precedes these two reads as follows:
“But the transformative changes needed to truly prepare our kids for the 21st-century global economy simply will not happen unless we first shed some of the entrenched practices that have held back our education system, practices that have long favored adults, not children. These practices are wrong, and they have to end now.”
Note how this paragraph names the true goal of schooling according to these educational leaders: to truly prepare our kids for the 21st-century global economy.
Notice that the goal isn’t to truly prepare our children for their roles in solving global challenges, or creating a safe, humane, restorative world, or living successfully peaceful lives that contribute to a thriving planet; it’s to prepare them for the global economy. In other words it’s to make sure they can compete with China and Germany and Japan.
There is much in this manifesto that is true and important and worthy of our attention and energy, but until we address the goal of schooling with a purpose worthy of our children’s minds and hearts and truly relevant to the 21st century challenges we face – which are hardly limited to economic challenges – we will remain off course and irresponsible regarding our children’s future.
It’s time to take seriously and embrace a worthy definition schooling: to graduate a generation of solutionaries.
Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
Want to get a taste of IHE’s humane education training programs & gain skills and support for inspiring your students to become leaders & change agents for a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world? Sign up for the next session of our 30-day online course, Teaching for a Positive Future (February 7-March 14, 2011). Special rates for groups of teachers.