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Leadership and Activism, Learning at its Best, Philosophical Meanderings

Creating a Generation of Solutionaries

For my blog post, I wanted to share a recent article I wrote for Educational Horizons Magazine. Here’s an excerpt from “Creating a Generation of Solutionaries”:

“In June, approximately three million students will graduate from public U.S. high schools, and even though they will have all passed their No Child Left Behind tests year after year, most will not be ready for what awaits them. While they may be verbally, mathematically, and technologically literate and successful at meeting the requirements of our educational system, even our highest-performing graduates will be unprepared for the important roles they must play in today’s world.

This generation of graduates will be confronted with escalating, interrelated, global problems, such as climate change, growing extinction rates, economic instability, a looming energy crisis, human trafficking, slavery, poverty, institutionalized systems of cruelty toward one trillion animals annually, and the oppression and abuse of women and girls across the globe, to name just some. Yet few will have learned in school how to approach and solve such systemic problems, and even though there are plenty of people already working on these and other issues, the systems in place that perpetuate them are entrenched. We need to create better, sustainable, and restorative systems in a host of arenas from food production and energy to transportation and financial markets.

… Whether or not we would have wished this on them, our children must grow up understanding how to solve pressing challenges. Yet, they are still memorizing names and dates of battles. They’re told to “do their best” at school, but what would be best is if we engaged their loving hearts and brilliant minds so that they yearned to play their important roles in the great tasks ahead. Core competencies in core subjects are simply tools. We must make sure that we’re providing our children with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to participate in the creation of a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world for all. And if we embrace such a vision for the purpose of schooling, we will watch our graduates quickly and inexorably solve the pressing, persistent, and systemic problems we face.”

Read the complete article.

For a humane world,


About zoeweil

I'm the co-founder and President of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE). IHE works to create a world in which we all live humanely, sustainably, and peaceably. We do this by training people to be humane educators who teach about the pressing issues of our time and inspire people to work for change while making healthy, humane, and restorative choices in their daily lives. We also work to advance the field of humane education, and to provide tools and inspiration to people everywhere so that they can live examined, meaningful lives. I'm also a writer. So far I've written six books and several articles.


7 thoughts on “Creating a Generation of Solutionaries

  1. Totally agree with the post. Oh, how much does education need to embrace PBL interspersed with core knowledge learning using the flipped classroom pedagogy.

    Posted by John Bennett | April 4, 2012, 4:24 pm
  2. Hi Zoe! This is amazing! I JUST made a short post today about how we need to show students WHY they’re learning things, when I encountered this article and your TEDx Talk! I whole-heartedly agree with everything you’ve been saying.

    My 3 big “goals” for education is to have it be more “transformative”, “meaningful”, and “intrinsically motivating,” and what you’ve been doing at IHL is a great example of this. I feel as though reachign the first two goals will naturally lead to the third goal, and lead to higher graduation rates and satisfaction in school. Because I believe that students really DO want to make a difference… it’s just our schools haven’t been (yet!) been doing a good job at schowing them how they can.

    I hope you don’t mind that I embedded it into my post.

    Posted by Nathan Wong | April 14, 2012, 6:52 pm
    • Thanks Nathan! So glad to hear about your work, too. If you are interested, we have lots of professional development opportunities for teachers at IHE (including everything from workshops and online courses to distance-learning M.Ed. degrees to free downloadable activities in our resource center at the website – please sign up for our e-newsletter for educators!)

      Posted by Zoe Weil | April 15, 2012, 11:44 am

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