Thinking outside the box

Cover of "The Age of the Unthinkable: Why...
Cover via Amazon

First the good news… my support of teacher/blogger Megan Howard’s efforts to get an ex-pupil from her school, Andrew Hennessy to talk at TEDxKIDS@BC has been successful!

In her response to my original comment on her blog post “A Problem Finder and a Problem Solver” Megan told me about a book that she has read that has influenced her thinking, “The Age of The Unthinkable” by Joshua Cooper Ramo.  She suggested that I ordered the book (I have done so and will no doubt review it on this blog some time in the future) and she quoted a section of it in her response:

From -Age of the Unthinkable- :
“The future demands a different resume. Today the ideal candidates for foreign-policy power should be able to speak and think in revolutionary terms. They should have expertise in some area of the world – be it China or the Internet or bioengineering – where fast change and unpredictability are the dominant facts of life. They should have experienced the unforgiving demands for precision and care that characterize real negotiation – as well as the magical effect of risk-taking at the right moments. They should have mastered the essential skill of the next fifty years: crisis management. And they should be inclined toward action, even action at times without too much reflection, since at certain moments instinct and speed are more important than lovely perfection of academic models.”

The last sentence made me think about the way we educate our future leaders in twentieth century methods in (often) twentieth century classrooms using pencils, pens and methods that will give them none of the skills that Remo refers to in the quote above.

There are a number of us who keep going on about the need to have problem finders and problem solvers such as Andrew and obviously he has been fortunate to have been to a school where future needs have been addressed and not a narrow curriculum based on outdated ideas that will produce individuals unable to “think outside the box” which I know is an overused phrase but one that I feel is pertinent here to my argument.

The ability to “think outside the box” is not just about playing around in a classroom with some exciting small project, it is about the ability that an individual student, who may one day be sitting in the Oval Office at the White House (or any of the great centres of government), has to make the decisions that will effect all of us and maybe make the difference between our world (the human one that is) having a future on this planet!


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