Friday, November 2, 2012

Further! Beyond the Borders of Basic Education

National Association of Independent Schools
National Association of Independent Schools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Paul J Kim

In his book Powerful Times: Rising to the Challenge of Uncertain Times, Eammon Kelly (CEO of Global Business Network) offers compelling insights into the possibility that we are now living at "the most profound inflection point in human history since the Enlightenment."

Beginning with a 500 year-old statement made by an Italian lord, "The times are more powerful than our brains," Mr. Kelly argues that largely unseen forces are transforming human life on an unprecedented global scale.

To demonstrate the sometimes psychologically deceptive nature of change, Mr. Kelly uses the "lily pond effect." "Suppose a lily in a pond reproduces enough new lilies to double its overall size each day, so that in 30 days it covers the entire pond. On the twentieth day, how much of the pond is covered by lilies? Most people guess around one-tenth of the pond, but the answer is less than one-thousandth. Not until day 29 is the pond half full."

Educators often consider how changes in the world necessitate changes in our work, especially when these transformations are projected to be so massive and rapid. As Americans, we have the ability to make necessary and appropriate adjustments in our educational system because we live in an amazing nation with the resources to do so.

Unfortunately, it is not quite so simple. There are strong and varied opinions about how to educate students amidst the rapid pace of change in the world and knowing how to best guide students to their potential in modern society is not an exact science.

It is precisely these challenges that private schools are able to overcome because students are immersed in a more focused environment that strives for relevance in learning.

In a recent article, the president of the National Association of Independent Schools, Patrick Bassett asked: "Why are independent schools so able to manage this task of discovering talents and strengths and then channeling them to the common good?"

In his answer, Mr. Bassett suggests that independent schools succeed because they are counter-cultural institutions seeking to engage students in many different meaningful areas of their lives, whether it is in the classroom, the hallway, or on the athletic field.

As the world becomes a more prominent part of the context of our lives, students need to be meaningfully engaged in an increasingly global context if they are to mature into healthy, productive, and successful citizens of the world. To meet this need, incorporating global education into its curriculum and long-range plan.

Private school teachers have started redesigning elements within the curriculum to bring more global content into classrooms. As they further this effort, they seek to be mindful about studying and knowing the world with informed empathy that results in greater self-awareness, rather than voyeuristic pity.

The goal is to position students in an educational environment that stimulates balanced thinking about the diverse and dynamic transnational forces that shape society today. This allows students to practice the skills and understanding necessary in a future that is not always particularly easy to see or know.

For over a century now, private schools have faced changes in history with the ideal of promoting "educational experiences that contribute to intellectual, physical, social, aesthetic, and ethical growth ... [by providing] ... students with the tools to organize, analyze, and interpret their cultural and intellectual heritage."

Recognizing that "the times" might be "more powerful than our brains," many private schools will continue to empower students and prepare them for lives in a diverse, interdependent world.

Colorado Academy is a Pre-K through 12 private school in Denver, Colorado. Find us at

Article Source:!-Beyond-the-Borders-of-Basic-Education&id=7349433

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