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Here and In the Not-too-Distant Future
The future is a big deal to those of us who are raising people who will only live in the future. How are we going to deal with it? How are we going to teach our kids to deal with it? Here are some thoughts from Seth Godin on education (search Stop Stealing the Dream): The world has changed, of course. The current structure of our education system, which seeks a low-cost uniformity that meets minimum standards, is killing our economy, our culture, and us. We can teach people to make commitments, to overcome fear, to deal transparently, to initiate, and to plan a course. We can teach people to desire lifelong learning, to express themselves, and to innovate. And just as important, itís vital we acknowledge that we can un-teach bravery and creativity and initiative.

The next century offers fewer long-lasting institutions (as in religion and industrial bases) to be replaced instead with micro-organizations with individual leadership, with the leveraged work of a small innovative team changing things far more than it ever would have in the past. As we build a new economy and a new world, they will be

Connecting people to one another.

Connecting seekers to data.

Connecting businesses to each other.

Connecting tribes of similarly minded people into larger, more effective organizations.

Connecting machines to each other.

Connecting leads to an extraordinary boost in productivity, efficiency, and impact. Most of all, the connected world rewards those with an uncontrollable itch to make and lead and matter. Commitment will be essential. Do you want to learn this? Will you decide to become good at this? The only people who excel are those who have decided to do so. Great doctors or speakers or skiers or writers or musicians are great because somewhere along the way, they made the choice.

The challenge is that the connected economy demands people who wonít hide, and it punishes everyone else. Standing out and standing for something are the attributes of a leader, and initiative is now the only posture that generates results. School, then, needs not to deliver information so much as to develop kids who want to find it.

Today, dumb is a choice, one thatís made by individuals who choose not to learn. The goal has to be creating a desire to know whatís true, and giving people the tools to help them discern that truth from the fiction that so many would market to us. When we teach a child to make good decisions, we benefit from a lifetime of good decisions. When we teach a child to love to learn, the amount of learning will become limitless. When we teach a child to deal with a changing world, she will never become obsolete. When we are brave enough to teach a child to question authority, even ours, we insulate ourselves from those who would use their authority to work against each of us. And when we give students the desire to make things, even choices, we create a world filled with makers.

Montessori has been at the forefront of the practices of critical thinking and personal initiative for over half a century. In our preschool environment, we are striving to make societyís improved connectivity personal and communal so that our children will have roots as well as wings.