Sustainability is a big buzzword in today’s culture, with everyone from politicians to CEOs striving to develop lasting goods, services, business practices and government initiatives. As an educator, I believe it is necessary to also consider the impact of sustainability in education. This year, we at Francis Parker School mark our centennial anniversary; and as we celebrate this milestone, we also remember that it is our duty to instill in today’s youth the capacity to act as citizens of the world, committed to creating a better future for the sake of our society, our culture, and the planet at large.
Several months ago, I wrote a column detailing the role of global education in a comprehensive contemporary curriculum. Youth foreign language programs are central to the development of global citizenship; and no study of international cultures is truly complete without the incorporation of a language component. Experience with foreign languages teaches students a unique appreciation for other cultures – all while supplementing the greater goals of college preparatory coursework.
In a few short years, digital tablets have transformed the media landscape, moving swiftly from boardrooms to local businesses and today adding to a growing interest in digital media in education. Together with increasingly intuitive and connected social media platforms, tablets appear to represent the media of the future: and in a recent article for The Atlantic, one teacher makes the case for bringing that media into the classroom in order to effectively prepare today’s young people for communication and responsible citizenship in the world of tomorrow.
With the dawn of a New Year comes a major milestone for the nation’s high school juniors, many of whom will soon be dealing with the excitement and anticipation of the college admissions process. Over the next few months, these students will prepare and send out carefully assembled applications – and wait with baited breath until discovering the results in the spring. But before all that, they must first figure out how to limit the countless options before them: and while there are plenty of popular resources available to help guide young people through the application process, customized college admission counseling is one of the best ways for students to navigate the vast array of college and university programs and find institutions to match their financial, social and academic needs with the benefit of individualized advice and assistance.
In his best-selling book A Whole New Mind, author Dan Pink argues that, in order to effectively prepare today’s young people for the future – not as we once imagined it, but rather as it inevitably will be – educators must revise the way they teach children and, in the process, rethink their approach to arts in education. As Pink sees it, left-brain skills – those associated with logical, analytical thinking and precise, linear assessment – are undeniably essential to the ultimate pursuit of opportunity and success in the workplace. But at the same time, these capabilities alone are not enough to prepare students for the unpredictability of the future; and in our ever-changing society, the ability to balance sharp analysis with holistic vision, precision with big-picture thinking and factual details with empathy and creativity is increasingly in demand.
Independent schools have taken this balanced approach to heart, and are striving to educate the whole mind – right and left
These days, media headlines chronicling everything from the United Nations conference on climate change to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Myanmar impress upon us the interdependent nature of our truly small world. And it is today’s students – tomorrow’s presidents, CEO’s, activists and inventors – who must learn above all to appreciate this interdependence, and to sustain a worldview filled with deep understanding and respect for the rich variety that exists throughout our world. As teachers, it is our responsibility to prepare today’s youth for the future; and to realize and embrace the challenge of enabling our students to graduate with the knowledge, compassion and global awareness they will need to become successful international citizens and leaders.