Only when we are able to do this, with earlier assumptions reassessed, and a clearer perception of new opportunities, will viable solutions to what for too long have been seen to be intractable problems, start to leap to mind.

Some 1996 Voices

“Learning is a consequence of thinking.”

David Perkins 1992

“Knowing what we know, we simply can no longer do what we now do.”

Why does The Initiative make so passionate a statement?

Read the following voices carefully, and ponder how the issues set-out in The Purpose Statement are reflected in everyday life. Listen for the assumptions and the disconnects between the age groups. Remember that the greatest incentive for learning is the personal decision “to make sense” and find a purpose within the society in which one lives.

“Learning and Schooling are not synonymous.”

John Abbott 1987

1996 Voices

An 11-year old – “I wish I could still draw. When I was in grammar (primary) school I used to draw decently. I loved to draw in pencil and chalk. Art of all kinds intrigues me. I also love music, and painting, and carpentry, and metalwork, and dancing, and sewing, and embroidering. I want to dance in my own ballet dass, play my clarinet, and draw thousands of pictures. Really good ones. Create beautiful poems, cook and sew for my children, decorate my home, have a good marriage, be an active volunteer, go to church, be an astro-physidst, go to Mars and understand all my questions aboutlife.That’snottoomuchtoask,isit?”

A 17-year old – “I have had a good education. I think I know how to ask good questions; I enjoy teasing out issues to find out what they are really about. It is easy to sayl want to realize my full potentialÑbut that is what I want. Yes, I hope it means a good job (I know something about market factors, and competition, and technological change), but that’s only a means to an end. I want to live in a world that gives everyone an opportunity to make a living. A world where differences are accepted, and where conflicts are resolved peacefully. We have to shape technology to support basic human needs, and not let it twist us to become ever more avid consumers. My friends and I want time to be ourselves, to appredate other people, and to enjoy the richness of our cultural inheritance, and enjoy natural beauty. We sense we are going to inherit some pretty tough problems. That means we are going to have to be wise, not just clever. Our futures need careful thought and planning; we have to think on a global scale in a world which will be very, very different.”

A 22-year old college student – “It’s hopeless out there. It is just a crap game. There is no way that hard work is going to pay off. There is no cause and effect connection anymore. What you have to do is get into a system and figure out how it worlds, and then you either work the system, or you don’t, but that’s all it is. It’s a system and you need to find your place in it. It’s all about networking, and the better the school the better your chances. What’s the old saying ‘it’s not what you know but who you know.’ I think that’s absolutely true. That’s the way it’s always been. I mean the world is made up of winners and losers. You just got to figure out how to come out a winner.”

A 31-year old – “I’ve accepted that I won’t do as well materially as my parents. I think a lot of people in my generation understand that will probably be the case, but maybe that isn’t so bad. I’ve seen a lot of my friend’s families fall apart, but I think my generation cares more about family. I think we want family and friends and time to enjoy life. In reality, all we can really do is deal with the moment and do our best to survive. No doubt it’s tough out there. I’ve been working the same job for six years without insurance. I just don’t think about what would happen if I got hurt. Man, I do get bummed out when I think about how hard it is to afford kids, but what’s life without kids? I really believe I’ll always get by and everything will work out. It just always has. Who says life is supposed to be easy?”

The Seer – “Do you know the old Chinese Proverb of Heaven and Hell? Hell is a large room full of starving people, with great caldrons of sweet smelling bubbling stew in the middle. But the people have such long chopsticks that however they hold them they can not get the food into their mouths. They are dying in the midst of plenty. And Heaven? It is exactly the same room, same food, same hungry people, same chopsticksÑbut everyone is feeding each other.”