A Six Page Excerpt
Look around at what you see. Is there anyone who is happy with the society we have created for our children? We are more divided than we have been at any time in my life and many of you feel the same way. We find ourselves at odds with one another over one issue after another. Rather than focus on the things we have in common, we seem fixated on the ways we differ from one another. If we cannot set aside our differences and work together in response to the challenges we will face in the balance of this 21st Century, things will not end well for some of us and could end badly for everyone. This is where we find ourselves, today.
The future is ours to choose. If we want a peaceful and prosperous resolution to the challenges we face, we must commence our response by understanding that we are what and who we have learned to be. If we want to be a better people, a better democracy, and a better society we must teach our nation’s children more and we must teach them better. We must strive to open their hearts and minds to learn as much about the realities of life and of the world as possible. This is a formidable task that can only be accomplish through a highly focused approach to education.
It is the premise of this work that the problems we face are a consequence of an education process that has become disconnected from its purpose. Over the three-quarters of a century since the end of World War II, the world has changed exponentially while the way we teach our children has changed only incrementally. The America in which we find ourselves is where education has brought us. It is said that organizations are perfectly structured to produce the outcomes they get, so it follows that the existing education process was perfectly structured to get us to the point in history at which we find ourselves, today.
If this is not where we want and need to be, we must accept responsibility for bringing about transformative change. One of the fundamental principles of this work is, “it is not until we stop blaming others and/or society and accept responsibility for our problems that we begin to acquire the power to solve them.”
I believe the state of American society, today, is a consequence of an insufficient understanding of the true nature of the complex and interdependent universe in which we live and of the people with whom we share it. What we think we understand is further compromised by our fears and prejudices. The quality of the choices we make will be determined by the level of our understanding of the world as it is, not what we wish or fear it to be.
In 1950, our leaders were bursting with optimism that there was nothing the USA could not accomplish. They thought we were living in a nation with unlimited potential in a world with inexhaustible resources. The U.S. had a population of 150 million people that was 87.5 percent non-Hispanic white in a world with 2.75 billion people. In the seventy years since, the world population has grown to 7.9 billion people while the U.S. population has grown to a remarkably more diverse 330 million citizens. Today, estimates suggest less than 58 percent of Americans are non-Hispanic white.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we are amid a population shift in which the percentage of white Americans is forecast to decline from that 58 percent of the US population, today, to an estimated 47 percent by 2060. The challenges in the balance of this 21st Century will be unprecedented, and this is the future in which our children and grandchildren will be required to live and compete. To proceed as if it is “business as usual,” in the coming decades, seems ill-advised.
If we wish to change the course of our history, we have two generations to alter the character of America. We need a rebirth of commitment to the principles of democracy envisioned by our founders nearly 250 years ago. We must acknowledge that if we continue to teach the way we have always taught, over the next forty years or so, it will not take our society where we need to go, and we will be even less happy with where we will find ourselves.
If we are to have any hope of achieving this rebirth of commitment to democracy in America, we must begin by relinquishing our insistence on blaming our nation’s teachers and schools for the problems of our society. Blaming teachers for the problems in education and asking them to work harder will not be sufficient to produce the outcomes we need. At one time or another, each of us has experienced what it is like when asked to do a job or perform a task without the proper tools, or with tools that were in such a state of disrepair they did not work. This is what teachers are dealing with, today, and yet they continue to give their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls doing their best to make the education process work.
Neither can we blame the parents of our children. Parenting has never been easy but the:
- The number of working parents, and an increase in parents who must work two jobs to make ends meet, somewhat offset by an increase in work-from-home opportunities,
- The ever-present influence of the peer group, empowered by social media, and
- The ubiquity of mass media providing virtually unrestricted access to all the world has to offer and the challenge of shielding one’s children from whatever parents deem to be objectionable,
all combine to make parenting more challenging than ever. We believe this makes the roles of schools and teachers that much more essential.
The effort in many communities seems to be focused on parents protecting children from what they deem to be the unpleasant aspects of society. The question we encourage parents to consider is how they can best prepare their children to deal with realities they will face as adult citizens. Should mothers and fathers strive to shield their kids from the things they fear, or would it be better to arm them with the knowledge and skills they will need to find their own solutions and create a better world for their own children?
The purpose of this work is to introduce a new education model to replace the existing American education process. It is a model designed to enable teachers to help each child learn as much as they are able at their own best pace and is premised on a belief that the human brain is the most remarkable three pounds of organic matter in all of creation and that the brains of the human child are the most remarkable of all.
The good news is, it will not take forty years to get where we need to go. It takes eighteen years to guide a child from birth to adulthood, and it takes thirteen years from the time they arrive for their first day of kindergarten, at the age of five. If we were to implement our new model, by September of 2023, we will have a full thirteen years to prepare the graduating class of 2036 for a new and better future.
For the students who will graduate in the intervening years from 2024 to 2035, we will have a shrinking window of opportunity to solidify the weaknesses in their academic and emotional development foundations that will influence the way they think about America and the world and the way they conduct themselves. Thus, it is vital we take full advantage of that opportunity and not subject them to another unproductive school year. Each year, thereafter, we will send another class or young men and women out into society, well-prepared to work with their fellow citizens to preserve and protect our people and our democracy.
By the time you complete this book you will understand how this new model will change the rules and expectations of education in America and the way we will keep score. We will show you exactly how and why the existing education process is letting our children down and exactly what we will do to eliminate those deficiencies and how we will ensure that the needs of all our students are met.
The changes we will be asking schools and teachers to make are simple, but will have a profound, positive effect on our children and on American society. We will also show how these changes in the way we teach will transform democracy in America so that it can fulfill its promise to all our citizens, not just a select few.
When we rely on a system that meets the needs of only some of our students, we deny other children of the value of the lessons they were supposed to have learned and we deprive society of the value of the positive contribution they might have made.
If we are unable to make this transition in a peaceful and positive way, the future of our nation and its democracy may be irrevocably altered. We must not underestimate the magnitude of the impending population shift over the next forty years. It will help if we understand that many of the problems with which we are dealing today are symptoms of the deep fear of the possible consequences of that anticipated tipping point on the part of millions of Americans.
During that same 25 years, while those young people commence the work of rebuilding a nation, we will continue working to provide a primary and secondary education of the highest quality to succeeding generations of children who will follow in the footsteps of the first wave of students educated under the whole new way of teaching we will refer to as The Hawkins Model©. These new classes of young men and women will join their fellow citizens in the reshaping of America.
The education model I will be introducing in this work has been named The Hawkins Model© so I can maintain the right of authorship. This new model will be offered, free of charge, to any publicly funded or parochial school entity willing to test the model in one of their struggling elementary schools. While the implementation of the model will be surprisingly easy, it will require educators to make a paradigm leap to a point where our leaders can observe our nation from a broader perspective and see that where it is taking us is not where we need to go. It requires a focused commitment of the people and educators of each community to teach by this new set of rules and a commitment to make the necessary investments to make it work.