High School Graduation by Age 15
We know that youth is the time of idealism and that asking our children to sit passively in the classroom, listen to lecture after lecture and become irrevocably complacent is not the ideal way to educate our children during this exciting period of their lives. Their idealism must be nurtured and supported.
By the time a student reaches the critical age of maturity at 15, they should complete the equivalent of a High School. They should have already received training in how to plan, how to conceptualise an idea and take it from its beginning to its completion, how to be resourceful along the way, how to collaborate with others to find solutions, how to overcome difficulties along the way, how to conduct themselves well, how to self-evaluate progress, and the like. Besides a solid understanding and application of the 3R's, students by this age should be mature enough to take on idealistic projects to work on removing poverty, to solve certain difficulties at the community level, take on projects of responsibility, undertake a variety of service projects, start a non-profit, start a school for the local poor, write a book, travel worldwide, volunteer, to work at businesses, or start their own business, or build their house.
Schools and institutions should not see this as a time to sit passively in the classroom, but to out there in the action field instead. Schools, institutions of government and community groups should support such time-off by the students from formal schooling. They should give these students a variety of working and volunteering opportunities, not just for the summer breaks but for a year to three years.
Such an opportunity as part of the GEMS schooling process will provide enormous power to these students. They will be better able to gauge what interests them for their further education. There are several other advantages to this type of intervention in their mid-teens. Therefore, the Council for Global Education presents this challenge to our parents, policymakers and teachers: Re-think and redesign education and its content to meet the needs of our children. Begin pushing the envelope, thinking 'out of the box' and looking at our real needs and goals.
We cannot afford more of the same, and we cannot afford marginal improvements. Treating the symptoms of poor education will not provide the cure our children need. Given the right conditions, our children will excel and they will change the world.
Before they can change the world, though, we need to change our schools. These simple yet revolutionary ideas can, we believe, put us on the right path:
The School must be a lighthouse. Every school environment has a strong impact on the life of a child. We must envision an environment where every child can become both good and smart and where the guiding school motto is the knowledge that every child is potentially the light of this world.
Every strong structure needs a solid foundation. Your school - your lighthouse for knowledge in the next century - must be built upon ageless principles such as Universal Values, Global Understanding, Excellence in All Things, and Service to Humanity. These fundamental building blocks can then support the four pillars of education, which 'raise the roof' on modern education: Understanding, Wisdom, Spiritual Perception, and Exemplary Living. With beams as strong as these, the roof will never fall in on a child's potential.
Our teachers must be of exemplary stature. Every child's education begins with the teacher. Many of today's teachers, however, are trained in the 19th century philosophy of education, designed to meet the goals of the industrial revolution. But the industrial revolution is over.
We must now teach our teachers to be facilitators for learning, role models for children, and exemplary leaders within the community. Innovative programs such as the Council for Global Education's GEMS Teacher Training Program will give our educators the tools, skills and resources they need to provide our children with the fundamental skills needed for life in today's world. The needs of our citizens have changed, but education has not.
All change must begin with our teachers, and the time for change is now.
Everyone has a stake in education. No society has ever succeeded while ignoring the needs of its children. Businesses know that today's students are tomorrow's workforce. Communities know that today's students are tomorrow's civic leaders, and everyone knows that today's students will mold tomorrow's world.
As banks merge with banks and corporations with corporations, our homes and schools must also merge to create a world class educational environment. Parents must be involved at school, and teachers must be involved at home. By creating a consistent, complimentary environment in the child's world, he or she will prosper and excel. If we continue to create a double standard, where home and school are governed by different philosophical parties, we will only confuse children and create adults who have no sense of values or direction.
See Spot run. See Spot run away from mundane education. Run, Spot, run. Today's curriculum is failing our children. The facts and figures of who did what and when they did it are cluttering our children's minds. Unlike our predecessors of the 19th century, today's children can harness the power of technology to expand upon the three Rs. We no longer need rote memorization or mundane facts and figures filling the school day.
Instead, we need children to focus on fundamental skills relevant to 21st century life, such as coexistence, team work, and taking innovative concepts to reality. The microchip wasn't built on a memorized database of names and dates. Tomorrow's innovations won't be either.
By building this structure - this lighthouse of education - we can accelerate the learning process and develop the gifts and talents of emerging leaders, nurturing tomorrow's Abraham Lincoln or Mahatma Gandhi.
Here's how: We will teach our children to harness the power of technology for learning, eliminating those mundane details above from our curriculum, and finish a student's high school education at age fifteen, while at the same time learning the fundamentals of what it means to be successful in the new century.
Then, we'll spark the realm of possibilities within a child and ignite the wonderment of their soul. Imagine a child at age fourteen or fifteen - at the height of idealism - dedicating the most powerful years of his or her life to service to humanity through projects that they care about.
Imagine a young Mahatma Gandhi, dedicating his formative years to inspiring an oppressed community, or a young Jacques Cousteau, restoring and preserving our natural resources. Or imagine a young entrepreneur, transforming the way the world communicates and expanding the possibilities of global understanding.
All of this is possible if we are willing to work together.
Our tests shouldn't ask "What is the hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle?" They should ask "What is your purpose in life? How can you achieve your goals? How can you contribute to the betterment of mankind and serve humanity?"
Those are the important questions.
Children in our system of education will be taught to intricately link their education to society and family and to communicate ideas clearly and concisely. They'll be able to work with people of all backgrounds, be good and virtuous, smart and competent - and ready to change the world.