THE BLOG
03/11/2013 05:01 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2013

Education for the 21st Century -- A Universal Plan

First in a Multi-Part Series on Education for the 21st Century

Who Will Teach Our Children? Or ... Who Will Teach, Our Children?

We look to the past hopefully to learn. We sift through its contents to find the gifts and morsels of information left. We see what we did, could have done differently and what we can now do because of what the past offers us. We compare the current challenges with the past, make our choices using new learning and hope our future will be different.

President Obama is suggesting an expansive universal preschool plan. It's a multi-billion dollar program to support the development of preschoolers from all walks of life. Its message, "Education has to start at the earliest possible age", reveals the hope to prepare our children for life in the 21st century, introducing them to the sciences, arts and technological developments so crucial for our future. These preschoolers are being prepared to be the next generation of leaders, engineers, scientists, artists, and programmers. These preschoolers are the hope for the future.

As I read about the plan, I couldn't help but wonder about the support these preschoolers would get from us at home. Assuming they are schooled in the new technologies and systems, the new ideas and thoughts; who will they go home to, to discuss these new worlds? Are we as parents ready to listen, to be taught, grow, expand and imagine again? Are we ready to listen to the ideas of these young bright eyed and bighearted leaders of tomorrow? Are we ready to lay down our ideas of certainty and allow for imagination, wonder, and new possibilities to overtake us, inviting us to participate in new choices and potentials?

Kids absorb new thought. They drink it in and build on it without so many filters.They truly believe the world can work and should work if we will just love each other. They share lunch with others because they have it to share. It makes sense to share because nobody should go hungry. They include everybody in their world and consider "anybody to be everybody". Their worlds are usually simple, present and free from the shackles of history.

So home they go to share what they are learning. All the new ideas they are taught will race out of their mouths as quickly as they can put words to them. Their thoughts about those ideas will push their way out into the world like new sprouts emerging from fresh soil. And without a parallel curriculum for parents to re-cultivate their fields of thought, these preschoolers could bring their young minds full of new ideas and possibilities home, to our filters and our fears based on our history which could conceivably create an impending collision of worlds new and old, past and present.

A Universal Preschool Plan needs to include a universal education. It needs to include all of us adults, with special attention and care for those that may not have kept up with technology, imagination and wonder. We adults need classes that parallel preschool classes. Being vulnerable in the company of an open, honest child can be frightening. Saying, "I don't know what you're talking about" is too much for many adults. Thoughts that no one should starve, that education is for everyone, Peace not war, and the idea of Love, simply Love, can question our core values, justifications and certainties about what might be real, and what might really be possible.

So, depending on when you were born, where you were raised, and what you were taught, (y)our beliefs and (y)our history could stop these young thinkers, innovators, and leaders dead in their tracks. We (adults and children) must continue to learn, wonder and imagine together, to co-create a universal plan for education and the world, or we may be doomed to repeat (y)our history.

Next in the Series on Education for the 21st Century: A Framework for a Universal Plan