Educational leaders have an obligation to implement tools for societal change. The public school system was conceived and developed in the 1920s as an industrial nation’s answer to poverty and the decreasing labor pool. However, we are still an industrial nation turning out a technology-based working class. The number of teen suicides are increasing 10-fold, attention deficit has become an accepted handicap, anxiety attacks among teens and young adults is now a common phenomenon. Schools are not serving students. Change must happen at the school level for society to change “…because school leaders working from a strong moral imperative foundation are the sine qua non of societal development,” (Fullan, The Moral Imperative 2003).
We are talking about changing to a peaceful society from a patriarchal status quo of the divide, conquer, and the survival of the fittest. The educational leaders’ call to action is to help change the context of society—“Change the context, and you change behavior.”(Fullan) It is clear among the educational leadership and visionaries that in our diverse, multicultural, and global community, we must include and nurture global citizenship and character education. (Goodlad, The Tipping Point. 2002). Goodlad states, “The trouble is that the school reform enterprise has been prescribing the wrong medicines for quite some time.” Academic achievement must be equally taught and nurtured alongside personal and social development.
“Seven Survival Skills” preparing students for the 21st century include the inquiries: can they think critically, solve problems, work collaboratively, take initiative, communicate effectively, access and analyze information, be curious and imaginative? These are all highly effective skills and traits, however, there is a critical piece missing in public education−what about the human factor?
What about the question of who am I and how do I want to show up in the world and contribute to society and an ever-increasing global community? How do I balance myself physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually? Health is defined by these 5 factors and one additional factor−occupational health, meaning one’s life work as a contributing factor to one’s choice of profession, job satisfaction, career ambitions, and personal performance. This last part of health is the primary focus for educators and policymakers when making national curriculum standards for our youth. What happens when students are not educated and provided the experience of discovering who they really are and how they are truly connected to each other? There are a disconnect and malaise that has overtaken our youth and culture. We cannot truly see the other person like ourselves, and our faculty for compassion is dulled.
We are willing to go to university for six years, specialize for two years, and write our Ph.D. thesis for two years about how the wind blows, how cockroaches live, or how monkeys play. But we never spend time on who we are and how we want to be.—Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D., spiritual leader of 3H0.