Special note: The following are excerpts taken from a speech given to a group of educators preparing for the new school year in 1993. The content is as applicable in 2019 as it was in 1993.
Education in general has not been in good favor the past 25 years. This despite large amounts of money spent on public relations and marketing plans. As we look toward the future, what should be the characteristics of a Secondary School graduate?
First, we must look at what the year 2000 will bring.
A diversity of religion with each one growing faster than Christianity.
We will be able to flash the Encyclopedia Britannica across the ocean six times in a minute.
Families will become more disjointed.
How can we have an impact? Who will be our leaders? Who will be teaching our students? Who will sit in our legislature? Who will be our pastors? I will tell you who. It will be the students who sit in our classrooms today. So what will our leaders of the future need, and what should we as parents and educators need to be doing now?
SCHOOL IS THE HOME OF THE MIND! We have fallen victim to expecting too little and organizing around the lowest common denominator. Ask yourself, “what should a (fill in the blank) grader know?” At the current rate we will have to scramble to keep up with world standards. We are not competing against students in our local city or community. Our market place is Stockholm, Paris, Seoul, Tokyo, to name only a few. As much as the diversity of our society has taken up ‘watch’ on our educational process, it is imperative that you as educators keep upper most in your minds that discipline, respect, reasonable authority are paramount to the educational process. The movement that places self-esteem in front of these principles of the heart has become misplaced.
We have to do better! Students must have highly developed basic skills. Students who think globally, master international standards of knowledge and skills will be the leaders of the future. We must establish proficient levels of minimum skills—not just getting by—that are achievable by most students provided they work hard and long enough. Curriculum must emphasize the use of language. Students who read well, master vocabulary and become learners will inherit the earth. In your classrooms, the order of the day should be developing serious essay writing, grammar and spelling. The three R’s will be reading, reasoning and research with a fourth element of writing. In the home the four R’s will be rules and regulations without relationships will lead to rebellion.
Let me encourage you to be sure to have your students read and write something of substance. By the time students reach their final years of Secondary School we want them to read 15 to 20 books annually. Yes 15 to 20 and they should be books that stretch the mind.
We must spotlight global studies, world history, geography and foreign language. Our students need to be informed about other countries. How will our children be able to compete with people we know nothing about? It is our goal that by the time the existing kindergarten students graduate, they will be fluent in a second language. Language unlocks doors of commerce and diplomacy.
It is important that as educators and parents we expect a high level of work competence and help students develop ethical work habits while at the same time manage time and resources.
Our schools need to create a climate for learning that is natural, where lessons are supported and there is time for reflection, inquiry, and debate. Everything has to be fun is a myth.
Godly principles and virtues of work, citizenship, honor, responsibility, trustworthiness and civility will become our responsibility. If we have full employment, great economic growth, if we have cities of gold, but our children have not learned to walk in goodness, justice and mercy, then we have failed.
I wish for you God’s richest blessings as you prepare society for the future by teaching the children of today.