Change was consistent throughout the 20th century and every century before that. Humankind progressed and will continue to do so, albeit through different modes and paces. A calendar change doesn’t mean that education must change dramatically.
People born in 1911 experienced technological advances during their entire lives: film, radio, telephone, television, computers, flight, and a host of others. They experienced Henry Ford’s assembly line production, as well as the ‘miracle’ of a man landing on the moon. Their lifetime was filled with social changes (voting and civil rights), economic depressions and upturns, international conflicts and wars, civil rights movements, and growth and global development of business and commerce.
Certainly children today will see changes we cannot even fathom. Many of us will not be around in 2050, but our children and grandchildren will. So, what are the learning needs of our four-year-old grandchildren for them to pursue happiness?
Change is a constant, always has been, and always will be. In fact, from an economic standpoint companies’ lifespan are much shorter than peoples. In his book, The Living Company, Arie deGues indicates the life span of Fortune 500 or equivalent companies is between 40 and 50 years. He states that companies that do survive have a “sensitivity to the environment” and the ability to learn and adapt. The same is true for our children and all of us.
When all is said and done children today need a strong education that includes thinking and problem-solving and personal skills and concepts. Children need self-awareness so understand concepts in all major content areas. Actually ethical and philosophical concepts may be more critical and essential as scientific and technology advances occur.
Philosophy and ethics, especially in times of change, become central issues in decision-making as new innovations challenge the status quo. All children need to see the ethical implications decisions — theirs and others. That is basic in times of change. Otherwise their lives, businesses, and country can spin out of control.
What is the definition of an educated person who can thrive and succeed in changing times — in any century? Children need knowledge, values and wisdom, supported by strong character, content, and skills to face continuous change resiliently.
See “The Fog of Reform” for more on this subject