Good morning class, today we cure cancer

What are you waiting for?

There are millions of words that have been written about how the floodgates have opened on the information age, the conceptual age, and now what is being termed the ‘golden age of education.’

But we keep doing the same thing.

Environmental catastrophes, wars, political upheaval, cancer. I have a feeling that I am not the only one who has said to one of our students that they are going to save the world someday. So, what are you waiting for?

If a bathing kitten can get millions of hits, why can’t a student looking for tissue samples for cancer research?

This truly is the golden age of education. We have by now all seen the results of crowdsourcing, kickstarting and so on and it really is exciting. It is inspirational. It is the world we now live in.

We all have such lofty missions at our schools. But they seem more of a hopeful promise than a practical reality. Now of course it is our job to teach students how to interact with the world. They cannot “just do it,” and the world can be a confusing, complex, even dangerous place. That’s where we come in as educators. Of course, we are not just getting out of the way. In fact, to quote the old adage of the bad teacher being “one page ahead of the kids,” we have to be at least three pages ahead because they move so fast. It is also in some respects our job to protect the children from the world and prepare them for it. You only have to see the difference between what’s inside the gates of some international schools and what lies outside of them to get a visual of this. We can’t just throw them out there! It’s irresponsible! It’s scary! They won’t understand!

Worst of all, we may fail. I don’t believe that schools embrace failure, or even accept it. And that’s a large part of risk and learning. It’s a large part of what we need to be doing. But how do you grade that?

Today class, we cure cancer. Or we may not. It’s okay, at least we tried.

About Stephen Dexter, Jr.

Stephen is an international educator and administrator. A native of the United States, he lives with his wife Stephanie (a specialist in families in global transition) in Croatia along with his daughter and son. With a career that spans over twenty years in public, private and international schools, he writes when he can and is on a quest to discover if "text walking" is changing the human brain.
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