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December 03, 2010


Dallas McPheeters

Many proposed solutions are presented as this or that, either/or, old way vs. new way, tradition vs. innovation, etc.

This mindset "is" the challenge before us. Our view is mistaken to begin with and therefore our proposed solutions for change are unworkable.

I believe the situation we have today is similar to that of early 15th century Europe when global exploration was the dream of a few while fear of the unknown, the mainstay of the majority.

Therefore, visionary explorers such as Columbus had to visionize some supporters and gather some willing risk-takers to venture into the unknown. This is what the next generation in our classrooms must prepare for... the unknown future.

They need to be visionized to become risk-takers. They will need critical thinking skills in order to map their journey. And they must know they will make mistakes labeling what they discover (just as Columbus called the native Americans "Indians" because he believed erroneously he had landed on the shores of India by circumnavigating the globe).

The challenge is that we traditional land-dwellers are trying to reform the land-based education system we have always known. Do we realize that this next generation must embark on a journey into the unknown? We cannot give them the specific 'knowledge' they will need (because we don't know the future they will face) but we CAN help them hone some basic navigational skills.

The next generation responds favorably when teachers step down from the pedestal and convey more accurately the task we all have before us. We as teachers must enable students for an unmapped journey. They as students must hone their critical thinking skills, be made aware of the risks, and learn from former explorers, how to navigate the unknown.

The next generation is hungry for such a challenge. They often seem disconnected and disinterested because of the land-dwelling future WE portray. So they hide behind their "in the moment" entertainments. We believe they are being foolish by not attending to their education. But they are not wired to believe our low vision. We need to raise our own sights. We are sending our young into an unexplored universe of unpredictable possibilities. It's time to inspire them to prepare for the plunge.

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