What Colleges Will Teach in 2025

3 Oct

If you haven’t read this piece from Time yet, consider doing so. My oldest daughter will be a high-school senior in 2025. What will school look like for her? Well, some of that depends on which question we decide to pursue: should we be asking what students should know or what students should know how to do? The easiest answer, in my mind, is ‘yes’ to both of those. And I would elaborate:

  • Do they participate in the conversations of their communities?

In my mind, this is really the central issue. Participation requires asking questions. It requires finding and developing honest, well-argued, complex, balanced, open-minded answers. It requires reading and writing and listening and speaking. And it can exist anywhere. Whether you’re a lawyer or a student or a homeowner reading your water bill or a citizen in a town attending a town meeting or a pet owner interacting with other pet owners or a politician or a child or whatever, are you participating? You know, lurking is one thing – acquiring information without responding to it – but we want our communities, whatever they are, to be filled with individuals willing to speak up.

I can’t remember everything I’ve read, and there is a whole heap of literature that, as an English major, I probably should have read but haven’t yet. I am of two minds about this: first, you can’t read everything, so there’s that. However, it is important to have foundational knowledge. When I was in graduate school, I constantly saw parallels between what I was learning as a graduate student in rhetoric and composition and how I had learned French. I remember that transition time when I was learning French, right before reaching a level of fluency where I could have a conversation and feel like everything I had learned was coming together. In graduate school, when I began reading texts that referred to other texts with which I was familiar, I began to anticipate that same transition to fluency, and that feels good. It feels good as a person to feel like you are a part of a conversation. Kids need to have access to that dynamic as well. And it’s absolutely impossible for us to teach this to them as little pills of information to swallow. If we want to do better, we respect them as individuals, connect them to their communities, and watch them grow.

 

 

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