The New Story — Attempt #1

So I’m home on paternity leave with my four month old daughter for three weeks. We’re having a good time playing, eating and napping. One of my addictions (other than coffee) is listening to WNYC. As I listen, I have been thinking a lot about David Warlick concept of the new story and the discussion that has surrounded his idea. On WNYC, I have heard a few stories over the past few days that given me ideas about this new story.

I have listened to David’s podcast of Reactions to Podcast 40: Redefining & Telling the New Story a couple of times and although the following ideas don’t meet all of his criteria, they are a start.

Here goes:

Did you know that: The polar ice caps are melting and the North Pole will no longer exist during summers by the end of this century; By 2050 all weather will be caused by human created greenhouse gasses; Increased CO2 allows more water vapor to be carried in the air, causing more humidity, which is the fuel for large storms. (Data from Weather Makers by Tim Flannery – NPR interviews here and here).

These points are very scary for a young parent or anyone around the world who cares about the future.
So what are we going to do about it?

We are in a race for the future of man kind. The best scientists and creative minds of the world must unite to work on this. Never before in the history of man is it easier to bring people together to collaborate to solve these problems. We need to be empathetic and put ourselves in the situations that people face around the world each day.

We need to speak foreign languages, be historians, be scientists and mathematicians while writing and publishing about all of our experiences. We can’t be compartmentalized into a department, but must use all of our disciplines to create conversations about these problems.

You can swap almost any big picture problem for the above Did you know that… question. All of them are critical big picture problems that will effect the world and our children. The next generation will not have the same opportunities and comfort we have unless we work to find solutions for these problems as a world.

One part of this fight is to meld our educational system to shape students into empathetic and creative life-long learners. Does high stakes testing do this? No. We need to produce students who can solve the big problems of our world, for the sake of humanity. (See this keynote by Dr. Janet Swenson for educational examples)

David wrote that, “I continue to maintain that when we can not clearly predict our children’s future, it becomes much less important what they are learning, and much more important how they are learning it, and what they are doing with it.”

Skills are much more important than content. The big picture is about moral, life-long learners. Those are the folks I want on my team. The team to save the world.

What’s your story?

One thought on “The New Story — Attempt #1

  1. Good job, Alex. Coincidentally, I listened to the same story on NPR, and learned, upon picking Will Richardson up at the Orlando Airport, that he has been listening to a podcast from the same guy. It’s an appropriate story, and the moral of the story, to me, is that we need to be graduating students who are not only conscious of the answers that we know today, but also skilled at inventing answers for tomorrow.

    Thanks for continuing the conversation and adding to the story.

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