Friday, August 28, 2009

21st Century Buzz

We met with our financial advisor the other day. The guy is a stitch. Originally from Australia, he found his way to financial planning via a career in the Air Force. A retired colonel, he's not yet 50. All of these elements combine to create quite a character. For example, the guy is big on empirical data. He takes his observations and spins them around in that hopper of a brain of his and then presents them, shiny, but undeniably a tad dizzy. He carries a yellow legal pad and is perfectly willing to diagram and chart his theories.

These ideas of his are not limited to investment, oh no, and that accent will charm you and carry you right along with him. I especially appreciated his skepticism about the rise of the multi-tasker. He reckons it's impossible for so many to be so proficient at several simultaneous pursuits. He bases this on his own experience. According to him, he is a good multi-tasker, but this simply must be a rare talent, because he is of above average intelligence and very hard-working, and he knows how tough it is for him to juggle so many considerations at once.

I thought of him yesterday, when we kicked off our first big meeting of the school year with a couple of YouTube videos describing the world our students are growing up in, contrasting it not only to the one in which many of us came of age, but also to the way things were just five years ago. Information and technology are growing exponentially. (Hello? We watched YouTube in a staff meeting...)

I'm guessing my money guy would make an argument for adaptation without disregarding the value of the basics-- those things that do not change or lose value; he is definitely a pragmatist. But in such a fast-paced climate, how do we determine what those are? To me, the take away was that we must prepare our students for the world that they will live in in the future, not the world we grew up in, or even the world today. Multi-tasking is the least of it. We have to think beyond our personal experience, and (now I'm doing my own empirical thing) that's really hard.

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