The world we live in has changed so much in the past century. The fact is that only a few of the very wise and daring were able to foresee the major changes in war, politics, communication and travel. Who among us was able to predict the breakup of the Soviet Union, the growth of religious fundamentalism, the creation and growth of the Internet, ordinary people buying a seat on a rocket into space, or the tragedy of 9/11? Were any of these events predicted or expected in the manner in which they occurred? Probably not. Will there be major events in the 21st century that defy our predictive powers today? Will they come in biology, space travel, nanotechnology, robots, global wars, or in the environment? How about a new ice age or global warming?
If one were to ask middle and high school students to predict the future, what would they say? If they are like most adults, they will find themselves expecting events similar or minor extensions to what they already know. They must learn to “expect the unexpected” or they will never be prepared for the unexpected challenges of life. Students today cannot be afraid to think outside of the box or to make mistakes. I remember reading a quote that said, “ It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” I am saying that students need to think the improbable, the unlikely, and the impossible.
We all want our children to grow up and be successful in all that they do. But there will be times when they are caught off guard. The answer lies in flexibility and creativity. They must act in a way to give themselves the most options as events unfold and the ability to react to unexpected results. I have often heard that people who reap the greatest rewards in life are those who were prepared for the unexpected and quickly able to take advantage of these opportunities. I believe that you must use your mind and imagination when thinking about the future. To prepare yourself for that future – expect the unexpected.
In my experience, the most creative thinkers are found in preschool through third grade. These children have the ability to dream the impossible and create the unimaginable. They are not hindered by thoughts of what should be or that there is a right way and right answer to every question. All things are possible to them. Parents and educators must find a way to keep imagination alive and creativity flowing in all our children regardless of their age and grade level.