The duty and responsibility of our American public education system in this 21st Century is to initiate, develop and sustain profound thinking in our student-citizens about the digital age (e.g. personal computers, supercomputers, robotics, and artificial intelligence) and the impact the digital age directly has on their education and career choices in this growing automated and digitized economy.
American public education needs to make a 2015 new year resolution to re-focus on a genuine commitment to a clear purpose. According to a little-known 2003 study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) that compared the world’s 15-year-olds on academic engagement and social engagement: American high schools are more boring than schools in nearly every other country. On academic engagement, “the U.S. scored only at the international average, and far lower than our chief economic rivals: China, Korea, Japan, and Germany. In these countries, students show up for school and attend their classes more reliably than almost anywhere else in the world. However, in the social engagement category, America is the winner over China, Korea, and Japan.” Sadly, except for the most privileged and academically prepared students that have a pipeline to America’s most prestigious colleges and universities, for the vast majority of American high school students the number one priority in high school is not academic engagement (“it’s boring”), but rather it is socializing with fellow peers.
For America to continue to be globally competitive in the 21st Century the role of public education should not simply be to make workers of its student-citizens, but better people of its student-citizens. Conventional wisdom purports to advise our young people to enter the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) because the future will most certainly highly reward highly skilled workers in the STEM areas. A fundamental principle that has been lost in the American Public School System is best stated by the following quote by Socrates: “Care first about the greatest perfection of the soul…the art which devotes its attention to precision, exactness, and the truth about [oneself].”
Our nation’s founding fathers subscribed to the ancient Greek belief that the development of the mind, body, and spirit are integrated, and that a well-educated person is well versed in all areas. The duty and responsibility of our American public education system in this 21st Century is to initiate, develop and sustain profound thinking in our student-citizens about the digital age (e.g. personal computers, supercomputers, robotics, and artificial intelligence) and the impact the digital age directly has on their education and career choices in this growing automated and digitized economy. It is imperative for our Latino, and other minority student-citizens, to be able to intelligently evaluate their own perception of the role technology will play in their individual future and their responsibility as Americans.
A thought to seriously consider about learning and teaching, as we enter this new year, is that life provides all people with a learning environment where he or she can learn from their successes and victories, as well as from their mistakes and errors. American public education can make great progress and greatly benefit our student-citizens, and consequently our nation, by incorporating the well designed and precise lifestyle assessment model developed by Socrates for people to explore themselves as unique individuals. Knowing one’s self is a process, an exciting and complex adventure, in discovering and understanding who you are. Academic engagement begins with “knowing oneself,” a “never boring, always interesting and exciting” process that begins with complex and profound self-questioning.