In the video below, Hans Rollings discusses the movement of poor and sick countries during the eighteen hundreds through the Industrial and Information ages to now, the Knowledge age. On average, countries are become more wealthy and our lives are becoming longer, but we must also deal with problems of communication, war, intolerance, over population, hunger, extreme-poverty, pollution, species extinction, epidemics, and unemployment. And these are the problems that we know about. What about the problems that we don't know about?
As teachers, we are on the front lines of the battleground to solve these world's problems because it is our job to prepare the physicists, engineers, doctors, nurses, ecologists, economists, entrepreneur, designers, artists, writers who must confront these issues. Just think that one of our students will one day have to work side by side with someone from the Middle East, or Asia, or Europe. They will have to understand the cultural and business customs of coworkers (and they are radically different), find common ground, and solve problems together. Also, just think that this student will not be an outlier with some unusual job that requires a lot of traveling. This student will be an average, every day employee somewhere, doing web training and working on conference calls with team members or customers from all over the world. Today, almost every sector of business must communicate and work with foreign companies and personnel. And our personal, community, and national success will depend on how well we master new skills and solve unexpected problems. The Fukushima tsunami and nuclear melt down is perfect example of how international assistance and expertise is vitally important to not only one country but to all counties. Without the help of international experience in nuclear disasters, search and rescue, and eventual environmental clean up, Japan would have been severely pressed to reign in the Fukushima melt down (http://bit.ly/1J9uzfV) and prevent wider environmental and economic damage. Another example is the Ebola epidemic in West Africa where it took a large concerted effort my multiple nations to contain the deadly Ebola outbreak (http://1.usa.gov/1jhM6aK).
Consider the following local/global issues:
- Mining for rare minerals for computer manufacturing
- Supplying clean and cost-effective energy
- Growing/producing enough food for growing populations
- Assisting aging populations and providing affordable health care
- Creating new and sustaining jobs to lower unemployment
Recently Olivia Hallisey, a 17-year-old student from Connecticut (http://bit.ly/1gPGnXC) developed a portable, inexpensive, and more importantly easy to use Ebola diagnostic test that can be adapted to use for other medical tests. Watch as she explains how she identified a problem and then found an elegant solution.
Olivia Hallisey explains how she developed a portable, inexpensive, and easy to use diagnostic test for Ebola.
What skills and knowledge did Hallisey need in order to create the diagnostics test? How did she seek out a solution? What obstacles did she have to overcome? How did she test and prove the validity of the test? How did she communicate her findings? By using Hallisey as an example, can we re-create or re-produce the drive, ingenuity, and determination that Hallisey demonstrated? Not all students are going to be as successful as Hallisey, but we should/must prepare them to contribute to the problems of the future both large and small.