Thursday, June 16, 2011

Learning opportunities . . .

I try to follow Thomas Friedman's op-ed pieces in the New York Times because I respect his insights based on experiences in countries throughout our world.  I'm sharing this piece titled, The Earth Is Full, because it comes on the heels of a conversation I had with some central office staff about our sustainability focus.  Nancy was sharing with us how at a meeting at Microsoft there were representatives from other school systems that do not have the same focus and do not see it happening in the near future.  I believe that they are missing opportunities to engage young people in rich content that they find engaging and important.

We see tremendous potential for young people to focus on our Outcomes and Indicators and Habits of Mind while studying sustainability issues in our science and social science curriculum.  The issues are real and are ones that today's youth will face in the future.  The Friedman piece is an example of the rich content focused on system needs that young people can relate to and use to develop thinking and problem solving capacity.  In it, Friedman shares a book by Paul Gilding an Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur focused on resource use, replenishment, and what it will take to create the changes necessary for balance between them. 

. . . we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,” says Gilding.

Unlike many in the field, Gilding is optimistic and believes that the gloom predicted by some will not occur.

As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.”

Just from this short piece we can generate many questions for young people to consider.  Do you agree with Gildings assessment of the current and future conditions, why or why not?  How is Gilding using data to support his position?  What impact will the changes he suggests have on the world economy and our way of life? 

Friedman also shares his insights that you might find interesting in his Times piece.

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