In this terrifying and fractured new world order, with the rise of blatant fascism and its ugly twin, toxic supremacy rhetoric, assaults on humanity run rampant as dictatorial, repressive regimes rise in astounding number. Wherein the insular politics of exclusion prevail, the politics of hatred and scapegoat-ism rein (racial fracking) and pervasive human rights abuses thrive – not only around the globe, but also here at home in the USA. Compounded by inabilities to work across such deep divides, this gripping gridlock with polarizing dictates from on high, threaten America’s global leadership. This very leadership is one already further confronted and challenged by stifled economic entrepreneurship, the growth in competitive competencies in international markets, and a profound lack of effective strategies for developing leaders to serve the next generation.
Furthermore, our most prevalent societal ill, the pandemic spread of escalating violence and conflict, coupled with instability in the world financial system, underscore the need to concentrate our energies on building both America’s and the world’s future leaders to cope with and transform these multi-faceted issues. It is essential we create enduring models which accelerate this global process, if we are to safeguard the ideals of equality, freedom, justice, liberty and self-determination – the fundamental bedrock of democracy.
Our current educational system lacks the energy, substance and focus to prepare young people to understand and navigate these complex challenges. High-stakes testing and over-reliance on test scores as measures of learning, deprive young people of invigorating and inspirational academic experiences that value critical thinking, creativity, humanism, and cross-cultural competence. With growing concerns related to human rights, social development, environmental sustainability, healthcare, and numerous other human growth indicators, it is of paramount importance to shape global thinkers and activists who will be the source of innovative solutions benefitting and healing us all.
Two vital areas help bridge the disciplines required for global leadership.
Cross-cultural team-based education utilizes experiential learning and global engagement to create opportunities to experience the world in the classroom and vice versa. Secondly, integration of arts into curricula, broadly defined, reflects the human need for expression, creativity and performance.
The ancient Greeks had it right…to be a “human” requires dealing with the whole person, combining disciplines acrmoss sciences, arts, and humanities to build stewards of society’s evolution, and ultimate progress.
Everyone remains painfully aware that both our education and arts programs are deeply flawed, lack vision, fall short of addressing 21st century issues and are underfunded due to the interlocking realities of the United States’ and world economy. To reclaim and regain our leadership role, and build our future success in an environment of competition and confrontation, we must create a novel educational paradigm infused with arts and humanism, an actual educational movement, which integrates the best of America with the brilliance of our world in a new partnership for global learning and leadership.
In this manner, we can celebrate the best of our global melting pot and fully draw on the collective brilliance and self-expression of the entire human family. From this deep well, an unending, replenishing resource, we can fashion a world in which we all thrive and respectfully contribute each other’s creative riches such that society flourishes.