The young do not know enough to be prudent,
and therefore they attempt the impossible —
and achieve it, generation after generation
(Pearl S. Buck)
Last week I observed student scholarship application presentations. This also allowed me the opportunity to visit with several students. Clearly I was in the presence of genius – young people who had found their passions and explored their talents – who had tasted the sweet fruit of instructive failure, and who had experienced successes that lifted them over thresholds to their futures.
I am very curious about what directions these young people will ultimately go in their lives. They are bright, talented, capable – and far more engaged with the world than I recall seeing in past generations. While school – the place – has played an important part in their lives – their learning and accomplishments seem to have occurred just as much (or more) out of the school environment as in. Quickly disappearing are the days when students enter school and travel a linear trajectory toward completion. Their learning occurs with mentors in the community, experts in their areas of passion, and other opportunities they actively seek such as Youtube and other online resources. For most of them, their trajectory isn’t happenstance; it is designed around their passions. They seem to know themselves well – and they care about who they are and the people around them. My observation is that our students will live their lives in very different ways than we have seen from previous generations.
As an example, one of the students who presented last week is a classical guitarist. He plans to pursue his music interests, and also a passion for law. He writes and produces his own music. He even has an album for sale on iTunes – an example of the entrepreneurial spirit of this generation. Another student spoke about the course she has set that will allow her to pursue multiple interests through university and beyond. She wasn’t willing to entertain the idea of a singular, linear pathway – recognizing that she wants to keep as many possibilities open as possible in a changing world. They seemed to know that the lives they would lead hadn’t yet been imagined.
I appreciated that each of these students recognized things may not go as they have planned. They demonstrated resilience, and the ability to “go to plan b.” They seemed willing and able to understand that they would change as the world changed – and more importantly that they would be the motivators of change.
I could continue. However – I need to get to my point – which is: With every generation we are observing a glimpse into our future. In celebration of our youth; the best is yet to come!