No One Right Answers Anywhere

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Today I’m announcing a game-changer. And once you let it sink in you won’t be able to look back. Ready? Here it is: there is no one right answer. And I’m not just talking about in classroom instruction and achievement assessments. This is bigger than that. There are no one right answers anywhere, at any time, in life.

How can I say this? The dawn of our global society is shining light in every corner of every culture, every context, every preconceived assumption, and forcing us to think beyond traditional ideals and values.

You can have one right answers in isolation…in a silo…in a vacuum. You can control the variables there. One right answers can still exist in algebraic equations, but they no longer apply in everyday life…and they no longer apply in education.

This means standardization is a false premise for any education policy or practice. Standardization was an industrial-aged ideal that aspired to a specific profile of student success. And in the process we labeled and marginalized anyone and everyone who didn’t fit that profile.

Intelligence quotients are no longer acceptable in quantifying human potential. A century ago the IQ was formulated to identify an entire class of bean counters and paper pushers. There is a much fuller, richer spectrum of human ability which our global society seeks to tap into today.

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The profession of education is no longer one class of workers who can be led along like sheep. The decentralization of education to meet the unique needs of all teachers, students and families is the strongest force for true reform of education as an institution.

Traditional formulas for success are also becoming irrelevant. Policies set by elected officials stand like paper tigers, and students today are poking holes through the arbitrary expectations that have no basis in how they learn, grow, and contribute to a global society.

There are no traditional career paths moving forward, either. Students will have multiple careers. So will teachers. No one will prepare for one profession. Everyone will create their own opportunities to contribute to the global economy, and no one will be thinking of “job security” as experience, seniority or tenure.

When there is no one right answer for anything, all the handicaps and obstacles fall away, and everything becomes possible. It pushes us past our physical and mechanical limitations to redefine our world, our work, and our worth. It will no longer matter where we are on this planet, we will all matter. We will all make a difference. And finally and for the first time, we will begin to make progress on all of the unresolvable problems of every age that has preceded ours: war, famine, disease and good stewardship of the earth.

As a member of the last wave of the baby boomer generation, I am resigned to the fact that we have the hardest time letting go of the one right answer mentality we inherited from our parents and grandparents. I have also come to accept that this transformation to a global society probably won’t hit critical mass until my generation is no longer in power to reinforce the outdated value of the one right answer.

But I am bound and determined not to fade away without speaking strongly in support of our progeny and the steps they are taking towards that global society they see so clearly within their grasp. They do not limit themselves to one right answer. They do not accept preconceived notions of what is possible. They ask questions. They seek answers. And they solve problems. Who can be opposed to that?

As uncomfortable and uncertain as it may be to let go of the world we once knew, it is time to acknowledge there is no one right answer anymore. Creativity. Innovation. Transformation. Buckle up, baby boomers. It’s going to be a wild ride.

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