A personal stake in the future

People sometimes apologize for talking about their families or personal lives on their blogs and I always wonder why. Our personal lives are what make us who we are, we are professionals, but hopefully we all have other lives as well. Lives that help keep use grounded in what is truly precious.

In HongzhouI took a break from blogging over spring break (my wife was very proud of me!) and spent some much needed time with my God Daughter and her parents. It is the first time we have seen her as she was born, just 8 days before we left Washington State last summer to head to Shanghai. Her parents made us her God parents back in October and we’ve been waiting to hold her ever since. Needless to say we had a great time as we traveled around China seeing the sites and just enjoying her company.

I couldn’t help but think about what her education will be like. What will her schools look like? Her classrooms? Her books? She’s only 8 months old so we are talking 5 or 6 years before she ever steps foot into a classroom, and as mind blowing as it is to think, she is the class of 2023. Will education look the same? Will education be able to prepare her for the world that awaits her in 2023? It scares me that as I look at the class of 2006 walking on our campus I have the same thoughts: Are they ready? I remember having those same feeling as a classroom teacher. After saying goodbye to the students on the last day of school having that feeling of: Did I teach them anything? Will they be OK next year? Maybe that feeling diminishes with time, but after 7 years, it’s still there.

I’m scared for education; I’m scared for our students. Yes they will get by, they will learn the skills they need to survive college and life, but if we are not preparing them the best we can for the world that awaits them, is education doing its job? We might not know what their world is, but we do know what it is today and today the world consists of networks of information linked together to form a chaotic web, a system whose half life is about 18 months.

So I look at my god daughter and think, what skills will she need to know? What matters more: That she has knowledge or that she knows how to access information? Do we focus on the acquisition of facts or the skill of finding the answer? What is going to better server her in life: Knowing that China’s economy grew at a rate of 25% a year from 2000-2005 or analyzing the impact China’s economy had on the world market at that time?computer skills

I believe the skills will be more important then the content itself. The content will change, but learning the skills to find, analyze, interpret and present information in a meaningful way will carry her much farther in life. So we started learning those skills this week.