We live in a world that seems to be growing ever the more complicated with each passing year. As a global community, we face a multitude of problems that threaten to undermine our current mode of existence. Some of the challenges we will face in this century, ranging from climate change to global economic competition to resource depletion, will have widespread effects on our way of life. And how well we respond to these challenges- as a nation and as a human race – will depend largely upon how well we prepare our youth to take on the challenges of their lifetime.
So how do we prepare our students for the complex issues that they will surely face as citizens of our nation and of our world? By having them sit still and listen for 45 minutes at a time, digesting bits and pieces of unrelated, compartmentalized content that we deem necessary? How can we expect students to think “outside of the box” when their entire education happens “inside the box”?As an individual, I went through all of my years of public school education and then four more years of university education without ever sufficiently “connecting the dots”. It wasn’t until I started gaining real world experiences- through travel, work, relationships, personal challenges- that I begin to see how everything is interrelated; that I began “connecting the dots”. Yet, the vast majority of educators continue to work in the same old ways, without ever really taking the time to consider whether or not our students understand how all of the disciplines interrelate and how, in the real world, it is impossible to solve problems without drawing upon skills from every aspect of one’s education. Perhaps this is why we find ourselves in our current worldly predicament… we’ve got a lot of people out there running around with “disconnected dots”.
In order to truly prepare our children for the uncertainties of the future, we have to rethink and revamp how we educate. Students must be challenged to develop critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and communication skills based upon their work in creating solutions to real world issues. And what better way to prepare our students for the “real world” than to immerse them in the “real world” as a part of their educational experience? By facilitating these types of experiences, we will not only help our students to “connect their dots”, but we will also empower them to recognize the potential that each of them have to create positive change in the world in which they will be living.