"We're in this for the next decade," asserts a Warner executive. "We're not in this for tomorrow." -- from Business Week article 'Atari's bet on home computers' (1981)I've been pondering that statement for the last hour or so. Surely it was meant as: we're in this for the long haul. But in retrospect, it reads like: we're in this for the next ten years. And not more than that.
It's the latter reading of the statement that should concern educators.
Recently I was talking with my son's 3rd grade teacher about his future. And it occurred to me that what we were really talking about was how he would fare in middle school. And of course, middle school -- or something like it -- is part of the educational scheme. But is middle school really what we should be "preparing" a student for?
Today is the last day for seniors here at JC. They're all wearing their college t-shirts. And that's great. Because we prepared them for college. But is that really what we should be doing?
Or are we part of the short view?
Is it our job to prepare students to handle the next decade of their lives? Or is it our job to prepare them to handle whatever life throws at them -- whenever that may be?
Does our teaching have a half-life? Or are we teaching this generation so that they may teach the next?
In this age of entrance tests and exit tests and "college-level" exams and PSATs and SATs and HSAs and ACTs and endless Scantrons and gradebooks full of "data", are we really preparing our kids for something beyond school? And in the lack of poetry that those tests and data represent, are we stifling the poetry of all our futures?
I do fear that in our quest for immediate results and solutions that gauge their worth by their efficacy in getting students through the next hoop that we very well may be preparing our students for the next ten years -- but not at all preparing them for tomorrow.