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  • Writer's picturePhil Jarvis

Education: The most powerful weapon to change the world

Every future citizen is in the public education system. This includes every politician, preacher, prisoner, policeman, plumber, physician, president, and everyone with roles beginning with every other letter. Every single future citizen.

We have 12 years, give or take, to prepare all students to lead purposeful, productive, empathetic, and fulfilling lives and to play the roles they choose in making the world better. Most achieve functional fluency in a foreign language (their 'mother tongue') before they begin Kindergarten, with no formal curriculum, memorization, or tests. Similarly, they tune themselves to their environment and learn the basics of movement and socialization, solely through observation and practice.

Kids enter preschool, Kindergarten and the early years of public school, excited to learn about everything and constantly asking why? From their first days of public school to high school graduation their emotional engagement in school decreases every year. Recent studies show student engagement in high school hovering between 30% and 40%.

All agree we must graduate lifelong learners with a thirst for knowledge who can 'think on their feet' to prosper in an uncertain and changing world. Slavish adherence to the same arbitrary, prescribed, age-based, college-prep curriculum for all, and preparation for standardized tests, is failing the majority of students.

Above all, education should help students find themselves, identify issues that ignite their passion for learning and life, and master the competencies they’ll need to create a happy, purposeful, and fulfilling life. In short, education should be about equipping students to realize their dreams. This will require a dramatic shift to personalized, problem-based and social-emotional learning that addresses real-world issues students care deeply about. With this shift will come dramatically higher student engagement rates and many more successful launches from school to life.

Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." But to change students, education must be aligned with their dreams and issues they care deeply about, and it must prepare them to make the world better in whatever roles they choose.

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