Thinking outside the box is a term widely-used to describe the action of bringing in new thinking to solve a present challenge. It involves mental flexibility to shift between mental models, or perspectives, allowing one or a whole team to ‘see’ different possible routes to problem-solving through to task completion. In this manner, the individual or team allows themselves the liberty to ‘step outside the box’ of established patterns of problem-solving and bring in a strategy, methods and momentum to break through for the ‘win.’
In the case of our public school systems, it has been found that a great many of them across the United States of America struggle to create students who are ready to be part of the twenty first century work force. Many grow up without a concrete vision of what they can become, who they can be or how far they can go. Without a strong vision and belief that they are capable in reaching great peaks, complacency enters their minds and hearts and passion towards excellence is not exercised. This is a big problem, a challenge we have in America and on a whole, as a team, we are failing ourselves. We are failing each subsequent generation of Americans by not rectifying the issue.
How so, and what kind of student do we need to create, in order to be successful in today’s ‘modern-age?”
- We need project-oriented, engineers akin to problem-solving on a continuous basis.
- We need community-minded, entrepreneurs who combine a knack for civic duty with a penchant for business.
- We need individuals who are apt in a variety of individual skills who can thrive outside the employee-driven work force successfully. These are the job-creators.
- We need individuals who are knowledgable and adept with their executive function skills & abilities.
- We need individuals who operate in a manner that uphold the traditional values that the USA was founded on. These are to put each other first as brothers and sisters keepers.
In essence, we have to create independent, intellectual warriors who are scrappy and have their hearts focused on servant leadership.. on being their brother’s keepers. It is not enough to teach the basic subjects. We have to step away from the comfort zone of creating an employee dominant labor population into creating an entrepreneurially-minded individual who is at liberty to be an employee, part of a larger team, as well as the creator of a team and the creator of employment for others.
It is then not a doing away with what we have.. not a doing away of science, technology, math, art, music, sports and history, but complimenting these with the additional model of self-employed social entrepreneurship. This perspective creates the opportunity for each person, each student, to have the liberty to ‘flip’ from employee to creator of jobs, creator of ideas, to leader of new packs and new ways of thinking. The best schools understand that servant leadership training, when coupled with business, technology, science, math, sports and world-affairs mints men and women who are passionate in their ability be active trail blazers, be it as part of a larger team within a company or as the nascent founders of new teams. It is the ‘liberty’ of being able to move between these two fields that empowers and creates the kind of twenty-first century worker needed to lead the United States of America onward and upward.
In general, this is not happening in our public schools across the land and instead of placing blame here or there, this void can be relegated to ingrained, educational culture that simply needs to be revamped. People are people and our teachers and school administrators all want to be efficient and effective. Mandates for changes must arrive from the bottom-up and the top-down which begin to see the value in creating this kind of hybrid working individual. We would be in-effect, creating Airborne Rangers out of students. We would be training and equipping each student with the knowhow and the ability to apply their education entrepreneurially. To do this, our instructional approaches and administrative directives would have to be clear in stating this ideal. It comes down to adding such vocabulary words as social entrepreneurship from an early age in the life of children. It involves taking math, science and technology and creating project-oriented student work that is clear on stipulating independent thinking as a valued resource. It includes consistently getting the message across to students that concerted team work is not about all workers serving one boss as a team, but that each student be their own, self-sufficient think tank, capable of being leaders themselves, complete with the confidence necessary to speak their own minds, knowing that each has multiple skills to bring towards the team win.
In addressing the educational leadership that is taking formation in Washington D.C. with the current confirmation hearing for the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, time will tell if such a call to action is heeded and implemented. It would be nothing short of a seismic move to take on such a civic-minded, entrepreneurial mandate and to then carry it out as a unified team far away from our nation’s capital. It would involve an understanding of its value and an urgency to begin the process of creating this kind of student in America. Looking upon one person to create and sustain the conditions to make such kinds of students would be a recipe for failure. Instead, clarity in this vision with individuals such as school principals, teachers, parents, students and community leaders would need to bear the impetus needed to quickly bring this new educational culture about, like a ship steering a slightly new course. Nothing would be thrown overboard, but a civic spirit of social entrepreneurship would be brought on-board. This new sailing spirit would add a concept of versatility, liberty and empowerment to each sailor on the ship we call Team USA. it would not be combative, but complimentary. It would not detract from each student-sailor’s academic-professional proficiencies, but upload to them the ability for them to create and sail their own ships even as they sail on the main ship. This kind of team would be country-wide. In its fruition, it would create an armada of ships that join together under the banner of traditional American core values which at their best would constantly bind us together.
1. These are to love one another as God so loves us.
2. To place the betterment of the local and national community first, as well as the land itself.
3. To empower ourselves and those around us to uphold the pursuit of liberty and the exercise and protection of freedom.
4. To work together as one unit, made up of dynamic individual parts.
So it is then necessary that each student be built up to be dynamic, even as they specialize in their chosen fields more and more across time. This kind of educational-empowerment creates an economic culture that is made up of individuals who are increasingly recession-proof because of their ability to ‘switch it up,’ to change gears, and push ahead. No longer would we have a scientist who simply is academic-driven, but one who feels comfortable in opening up their own laboratory venture, if they ever wanted to. We wouldn’t have technology engineers who build the next incredible device, but technology engineers who know how to bring it to market successfully also. We wouldn’t just have artists and musicians, but artists and musicians who know the ins and outs of how to effectively market themselves and make an independent living, if need be.
To that end, we would be creating hybrid students who would be free to rely on a bevy of abilities which would compliment their central focus. This kind of self-sufficiency would create preventative safeguards against future economic downturns because each individual in the chain would be dramatically empowered to shift, transition and flourish as individuals, even as they continue to be all part of a greater chain that makes up the American work force. It is like that well-known phrase, ‘a chain is as strong as its weakest link.’ Strengthening the individual links by instilling this kind of educational empowerment allows each to auto-correct, anticipate, predict and strive as individuals, even as they continue to be part of a team within a company, a community, the nation or the world itself.