At our Back to School Leadership gathering I asked the team in the district where I am superintendent one question, “why are we here?” A simple question, right? Some might say so. But I believe it’s a grand challenge to define ourselves as the leaders we need to be in 2014. Why do we come to work every day? To collect a paycheck? Make sure our schools like clockwork? Ensure kids pass state tests? Implement the Common Core?
I don’t think so.
Instead, I believe our work is about educating our children for life, not for school. And the nature of life in 2020, 2030, 2040, and 2050 and so on can’t even be projected with accuracy based on what we know today.
We do know our children will grow up to live in a world with all the grand challenges that Planet Earth can throw at them – war, disease, famine, water shortages, global climate change – and all the cultural changes that technology acceleration and physical migration brings to our lives.
We also know our children will live in families, workplaces, communities, and nations as humans always have – albeit Gen Y and Z will likely experience more than a few of each across a lifetime. Does the context and content of typical schooling today prepare children entering kindergarten in 2014 at age 5 for their world forty years later?
I bet not.
I shared with the leadership team when we gathered together that technology changes the world in every century. The tall ship and the printing press. The telegraph and the train. The plane and the phone. Twitter and YouTube. Communication and transporting technologies that move people and information around the globe impact civilization. As the technology changes, what humans know and can do changes. Learning changes. The world changes.
Why are we here?
I believe we’re here to help children and the teachers who serve them to flourish not just function or as @fredbartels said in twitter to me recently about the role of school leaders:
in 2014, this means we must mindfully and with passion:
- provide universal access to the world as a source of learning,
- open pathways with interactive technologies and connectivity that didn’t even exist ten years ago,
- make passion-based learning a way of learning for all, not just a few,
- model an open mindset for lifelong learning.
That’s why we are all here; to lead so our children flourish.
Nothing more. Nothing Less.
Now and forever more.