Is our education system preparing us for the kind of world mine and future generations will be left with?
We are living in a very precarious time, much different then when our parents and our grandparents grew up and went to school. Since the Industrial Revolution, people were educated in a system to fulfill the American dream by becoming a part of a workforce that left many working long hours, and making very little money, while filling the pockets of the one percent. They developed this mindset that in order to be happy, they needed material things: a bigger house, more money, and a nicer car. Society’s standards of “success.”
But, they were tricked into thinking that the only way to be “happy” was to go through 12 years of school, go to a good college, get a degree most times in an area they weren’t even passionate about. All of this in the race to make money, to become successful, they lost sight of what it truly means to be happy, and take care of the source that gives us life. This mind set is literally destroying our Earth.
We are on the brink of an ecological apocalypse in which our Earth is warming because of the amount of carbon and methane we are putting into the air. This is causing weather patterns to change so dramatically that people are being affected all over the planet with an incredible increase in global disasters. Extreme hurricanes, droughts, floods, tsunamis and typhoons are being seen now as the norm of what we should expect in our future.
Are we being given the tools that we will need to deal with our changing planet?
Erin Shea-Bower, a fifth-grade elementary school teacher says, “I don’t think were getting the whole story. I would say that certainly the science we have in our classrooms in terms of books isn’t keeping up with the science, so teachers are completely at a loss for materials. This generation is not being prepared for this changing world, and I would venture to say that if we don’t open our eyes soon, there’s going to be some devastating things that force us to open our eyes.”
“Creativity is not rewarded,” Kirk Nugent, an author and inspirational speaker, told ICTMN. “If you do anything outside the box you are punished. Our society is determining our success by test scores and numbers and are showing us that if we don’t learn in the way that this system expects of us, then we are treated like there is something wrong with us. I am seeing more young people pursuing their passions and going after what they want, but as far as the structure of the schools, I don’t see any steps being taken to close this gap in our system.”
Van Jones, who was appointed as President Obama’s Special Advisor on Green Jobs has taught in prestigious schools such as Princeton University, and in places like California’s San Quentin prison.
“Nelson Mandela told us that ‘Education is the most powerful tool that we have to change the world’ and it is,” Jones told ICTMN. “Whether we go to Harvard, or to a poor urban school that lacks resources and funding, we are not being taught the right things.”
Our generation has the opportunity to rewrite history and change the fundamental beliefs of a collapsing world for our entire society, but we cannot do this without breaking away from the mindset that got us here.
“In order for your generation to prepare for a new world, you have to break away from the paradigm that our generation left to you,” Nugent said. “The paradigm we have given to [your generation] didn’t work for us, so therefore it won’t work for you. Your generation has to pave their way.”
Education is supposed to set us free, not to educate us to fit inside the same box fulfilling a dream that is taking us down a dead end street. We need to be taught to adapt to this changing world by being educated and given the tools and resources to live healthier, wholesome lives, pursuing our passion while caring for the Earth.
I am only 13, but I believe if we continue to make the same mistakes past generations have made, we won’t have a chance of inheriting a healthy, just, sustainable planet!