ALL OVER THE WORLD, the cries for education reform are growing louder. But reforming “education,” will not get us where we want to go, because the world now needs something new.
We are victims of our own success—even though that success has not been complete. The entire world already has a very fixed idea of what an “education” is, because so many went through it. We will not change that idea meaningfully by trying to fix or shift it incrementally. We need to move past it, understanding it is outmoded for our kids’ future (leaving some of the old in place, perhaps, for those who still demand it.)
WE NEED NEW ENDS FOR KIDS—
AND NEW AND DIFFERENT LANGUAGE TO DESCRIBE THOSE ENDS.
Today, the words “education,” “learning,” and “achievement” all stand in our way. LIke horses for transportation, we need to see them as old concepts, left over from the 20th century and before. They were OK for their times, but are no longer as useful. Mandela’s 20th century cry that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” is outdated thinking. Ironically, in the 21st century, the more we pursue education, learning and achievement, the worse off we will be—because “educated people” in the 20th century sense is not what we need.
- We need to replace “education” with EMPOWERING and BECOMING.
- We need to replace “learning” with REAL-WORLD ACCOMPLISHMENT
- We need to replace “academic achievement” with MEASURABLE POSITIVE IMPACT
In the 20th century we put as many kids as we could through a system called education, tried to produce learning, and measured their achievement. Now, in the 21st century, we need to put kids through a process of becoming, try to produce empowerment, and measure their accomplishment.
We need to direct our kids’ heads, hearts, hands—and technology—to new and different ends of:
- BECOMING: We must tell our kids their goal is not to “be educated” but to become good, effective, world-improving people. We need to show adults how to help kids do this.
- EMPOWERING: We must bring up our kids to know that when they see a problem—or see something that is not right in their world—they can not only understand what is wrong, but imagine a solution, join (or build) a team, and fix it. We need to show adults that they can empower kids in this new way, and not just tell kids what we think they should know or do.
- ACCOMPLISHING: We must be sure kids understand not just that they CAN get things done, but HOW to get things done. This comes from doing real, world-impacting projects over and over, hundreds of times, as their means of becoming. We need to help adults guide each kid in the directions of finding projects meaningful to them, and getting those projects done successfully.
Unfortunately, none of this has much to do with “education” as it is currently conceived and practiced by almost all.
CURRICULUM: We do not need any overall curriculum for everyone beyond a few life-guiding principles. The path each kid follows—different for each one—should arise out of deep self-understanding and the becoming, empowering and accomplishment process. We need adults who can guide kids along useful, productive and world-improving paths.
MEASURING AND ASSESSING: We need to measure and assess kids ONLY by their accomplishments. Grades, competencies, and degrees are all measures from the past, and irrelevant to what we really need today. There is no need to rank anyone—only to find the accomplishments at which they succeed. We need adults who can help kids understand when their projects are successful and who can help them make them more so.
A new alliance to move FROM education, learning and school TO becoming, empowering, and accomplishing would significantly impact our 21st century kids for the better. The TWO BILLION KIDS PROJECT, through The Global Future Education Foundation, is an attempt to create such an alliance. Please join us at twobillionkids.world.