There's an article by Amy M. Azzam in Educational Leadership's summer online edition, ("Engaging the Whole Child" volume 64) called "Two Takes on Whole." In the article, the co-chairs of ASCD's Commission on the Whole Child are talking about a new initiative in education.

I wanted to share with you the words of Stephanie Pace Marshall, about global competition, and about how we need to be teaching students now, for their (and the world's) positive futures.

Marshall: "Reports are coming out now that focus on the need for students in science, technology, engineering, and math, but unfortunately the focus is on “How can we make sure U.S. kids are as competitive as kids in India, China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Singapore?” These concerns are driven by competition. You don't hear a lot of conversations about what we're going to do in math and science so that our kids have the tools to advance the human condition. I would submit to you that the primary grounding should be advancing the human condition. When that's the focus of your scientific, mathematical, and technological work, you're going to have an economic driver because advancing the human condition takes an enormous amount of creativity, invention, and imagination.

What has turned off so many kids—especially girls—to science, engineering, and technology is that we've got to be competitive, we've got to make money. We had to beat the Russians during the Cold War. Now, we have to beat the Indians and the Chinese. We should step back and ask, Why are we trying to beat them?

The kinds of minds that emerge from a whole child environment are profoundly different. For example, if I take x number of kids whom I don't know, put them in a room, and give them a messy, ill-structured problem that they have never seen before, I could pick out the kids who have benefited from a whole child environment in school—by how they approach the problem; how they work together; what questions they ask; their level of confidence; their comfort with ambiguity, paradox, and complexity; their ability to fluidly navigate concepts. That's what success in the 21st and 22nd centuries is going to look like. "

Classroom 2.0 colleagues, what's your reaction to this? Is Marshall saying it right? Do you agree with these goals? How would you say it differently?

Tags: competition, cooperation, future, purpose, technology, wholechild

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