Some thoughts on the longterm effects of student-led learning.
Accelerated Evolution of Life Philosophies
Great though it can be, diversity of thought can separate us from close ties. I hear adults voice concerns on how things are being done. Sometimes it’s simply confusion. Other times, there’s an element of disgruntled “That’s not how we did it.” all the way to “I’m not comfortable with my child doing this.”. What excites a child’s mind may not mesh with the traditions and practices of the family, leading to fractures and conflicts. We need to remember this as we move through our interactions with students and the wider society.
On the opposite side, children now have ways to connect with peers they would not have had access to in prior times. These connections based on shared interests can bolster a nascent interest and belief in self. “I’m weird.” becomes “I’m not alone.”.
Intense focus on social and emotional skill training are critical for our youth to succeed in leading themselves now and as adults.
Larger Potentialities for Both Personal Failure and Success
There was a time when you grew up knowing how your work life would turn out. Families had professions (farming, dentistry, factory jobs, small businesses) that were taken up and passed down to the next generation.
Today, we press for students to decide what they want. The options and scope can be overwhelming.
However, there is a real fear in our youth and families that this is a faulty and dangerous dream. The old safety nets are gone. Opportunities seem held for those with connections, not inventive concepts worthy of investment. Advanced degrees are demanded for even the most basic of positions, further distancing those who stumble or who have minimal means.
Anxiety runs high in our world today. We need to address it. How do we ensure that the exploration will lead to a life that can be lived and not one that is lost?
Closer to Star Trek Federation...or Annihilation
I confess that I religiously watched Star Trek The Next Generation. I loved the concept of all sorts of beings working together and exploring the universe. I could never see how it could actually ever happen in real life, however. When it aired, 1987-1994, we were so mired in fears and hostilities between countries, we all feared for this single rock, let alone the cosmos.
We can chat with someone in South Korea or London instantaneously. Students today converse and study together across town, country and increasingly, around the world. Student-led learning can build bridges which might help make dreams like those Gene Roddenberry had become a reality.
Unfortunately, the spread of hate and exclusion can move just as fast as the speed of friendship and sharing. Another call for social and emotional vision.
In Hope-filled Summary
We live in a time with more potential than any other. We can do this. As Mr. Kornfield states, we need to be present and focused on love. Together.