Friday, January 25, 2008

A Class About Dreams

Forbes asked leaders of industry, public policy and education to offer a vision for improving American schools. I haven't read all twenty ideas, but the fact that they asked 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus intrigued me and his answer was an amazing break from what most people would expect:
The process of imagining a future world of our liking is a major missing element in our education system. We prepare our students for jobs and careers, but we don't teach them to think as individuals about what kind of world they would like to create. Every high school and university ought to include a course focused on just this exercise. Each student will be asked to prepare a wish list and then to explain to the class why he wants the things he wants. Other students may endorse his ideas, offer better alternatives or challenge him. Then the students will go on to discuss how to create the dream world they imagine, what they can do to make it happen, what the barriers are, and how partnerships and organizations, concepts, frameworks, and action plans can be created to promote this goal. The course would be fun, and more important, it would be a great preparation for an exciting journey.
Yunus goes on to talk about something that ended up winning him the Nobel Peace Prize--focusing on a small, local problem. Yunus pioneered the concept of a micro-loan. His concenpt for education is not necessarily to look at all the big problems, but to focus on one small problem at a time, attacked by one small group of people at a time.

Thus instead of top down, mass solutions, you build a bottom up ground swell of improvement. A neat idea.

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