Amid a maelstrom of economic, social and political changes throughout the world, parents and educators are asking questions.
- “Is our education system keeping pace with the transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age?”
- “Is our curriculum adequately preparing our children for the rapidly changing job market characterized by meteoric advances of technology?”
- “Can education stem the crumbling foundations of civil society and the threat to world peace?”
These are weighty questions demanding serious consideration, open-minded discussion and resolute action.
Much of the discussion about 21st Century education focuses on methods and technology. Absorbed with these issues, we run the danger of not ‘seeing the forest for the trees’. Although curriculum, methods and technology are important, these are secondary to the fundamental issue, “What is the purpose of education?” Without at least a consensus of purpose there is little hope of significant change and meaningful improvement in the outcome of education.
A blueprint outlines the architecture of a structure. It may be a complex or carefully designed plan or model, or it may be a planning document that guides and sets priorities. I offer the following as a blueprint for education in the 21st Century. Following these guidelines, we can more than adequately prepare our children to take their place in the 21st Century.
My blueprint is based on the fundamental presupposition that
education is a collaboration between parents and school in which parents hold the primary responsibility.
I hold that the fundamental purpose of education is
- to guide a person (not a statistic) through a program that equips and trains that person
- to be an individual of character,
- developing his/her unique gifts through life-long learning,
- growing in wisdom through well-honed executive and decision-making skills,
- empowered to contribute positively to the betterment of others, civil society and the world.
I also maintain that an education system must serve its clients (i.e. meet the expressed needs of parents, students, civil society) for their advancement, not require strict conformity to the status quo imposed by bureaucracy.
The hallmarks of the education I propose are
- integrity of individual character and of family values
- positive self-esteem and thoughtful social interaction
- strong motivation for learning and for academic excellence
- purposeful dedication and service
Each of the hallmarks is initiated from within, activated by personal choice. Thoughts, emotions and actions proceed from the heart. The condition of the heart determines how skills and knowledge are used. Significant attention must focus on ‘heart issues’, primarily by parents in the home but reinforced and complemented by educators in the school.
Education must be holistic in nature if it is to fulfill its purpose.
I identify the following as the seven components of holistic education. They create guidelines for curriculum development.
- spiritual — a profound reverence of and personal relationship with our Creator
- moral — a clear knowledge and practice of basic moral values (universal principles)
- philosophical — a clear sense of identity and raison d’etre (who am I? and why am I here?)
- academic — proficient reading, learning and reasoning skills through which wisdom is developed
- vocational — clear vision of purpose and life’s work expressed through one’s unique giftings, talents and abilities
- cultural — appreciating cultural values and social behavior without compromising basic moral values and universal principles
- physical — enjoying prosperity and health by maintaining proper hygiene, exercise, work, rest and diet
Without home and school working together in a holistic approach, the end result is fragmented, disenfranchised youth with neither compass nor map to chart their course through life.
One of the reasons home-schooling out-distances institutional schooling (private and public) is that it distinctively embraces a holistic approach. Children who are the products of holistic education inevitably rise to prominence, power and influence wherever they go—not perfect by any means, but prepared for any event.
Developments in the 21st Century—the good, the bad and the ugly—demand change. Pointing fingers of blame and accusation is of no use. The situation requires serious consideration, open-minded discussion and resolute action. We must get on with the job.
In the hands of a knowledgable and experienced contractor, the blueprint ensures a vision becomes reality. How well he fills in the details determines the end result. As parents and educators, we are both knowledgable and experienced. We are able to tackle the issues from both sides. Are we working from a relevant blueprint?
I’m sure mine is not the only blueprint. Mine has guided my efforts in establishing 4 schools, one in Canada and 3 in Jamaica. It has also guided my efforts to home-school our 4 children and the 2 grandchildren now living with us in Jamaica. It has served me well.
Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net