Sense Making and the Path Forward

When events fall outside those conceived possible by our mental model, it’s worth pausing for reflection.
Empathy. Half of this country is angry and feels left out. Some of us didn’t know or appreciate that.
Humility. We live in a complex world where human systems interact in ways that we don’t understand and can’t predict with any reliability
Character. It’s never been more important to create environments and experiences that help young people develop strength of character.

Innovation. Bending the inevitable march of exponential technology toward access and equity is the biggest lever for good (as well as the biggest existential threat).
Complexity. There will be many more new and confusing events. Young people need experiences that build cognitive muscles for a complex world.
Service. Cognitive science has taught us that one of the best ways to build relationships, perseverance and a growth mindset is by serving others. That’s a win-win.
Community. As we said in Smart Cities, “Learning is the best formula for promoting economic growth and reducing the crippling effects of poverty…Schools can serve as the foundation for highly functioning democratic and sustainable communities and societies.” Now more than ever, schools need to create opportunities for kids to connect with their community and engage in place-based learning (#PlaceBasedEd).
Opportunity. There has never been a better chance to create powerful learning environments and experiences. It’s how we recreate America every day. It’s never been more important.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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1 Comment

Larry Hitchcock

Much to think about after the election and a great post.
I'm thinking about this prophetic statement from one our most respected past Presidents:
Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Bringing to mind how important it is to see this as the learning moment that it really is.
No matter which side one is on, this election reminds us the importance of our role as informed, educated voters who's duty to our country is to cast a vote (around 90 million eligible voters stayed home) and cast a thoughtful educated one at that.
As a learning moment, this one looks like it will last 4 years.
So lets all as Americans be students of our own democracy. Let's search in ourselves for the principals that matter most to each of us, let's find ways to advocate in our lives for those things, find local, state and national candidates who embody our principals, and when it's again our civic duty to cast a thoughtful educated vote.
We do.

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