A few days ago I was having lunch with St. John’s board president. Our conversations always are interesting, and we cover a wide range of topics—most directly tied to school, some not so much. Well, at least not as directly…but I find myself later bridging the gap.
At this particular lunch we somehow reached the topic of short- versus long-term thinking. He’s a finance guy, and he pointed out that people don’t think long-term when it comes to investing and financial growth. As an example, he used the way we react to quarterly statements.
Too often education operates with this same sort of short-term thinking. We organize by short term units, assess by limited instruments, motivate with carrots. Some of this is necessary. We are dealing with young people, who have limited ability to think long term. We have to ensure that certain scaffolding occurs as part of the learning process. At the same time, however, I want to think that we do so with a long-term vision in mind of what an education really should be for.
It brought to mind a video I had not watched for a while. In it Tom Peters finishes with some examples who really used their learning for a grand purpose.