Why?

The World: Running Out of Energy

According to Jeremy Rifkin, best-selling author of The Empathic Civilization, there is a very strong possibility that we may be facing extinction as a civilization in the next century.

 

The consumption of fossil fuels is rising at such an alarming rate, that energy consumption is not sustainable.

 

With the economic rise of democracies in developing nations, those formerly underdeveloped nations are now consuming energy that used to be reserved for developed countries. And developed countries are consuming even more fossil fuels. And so the vicious circle goes.

 

The need for collaboration in this impending global crisis, according to Rifkin, makes it economically imperative for the world to cooperate with one another if we are to survive as a species.

 

Therefore, the need to teach children concepts of collaboration and concern for the world is not just a nice idea, it is a global necessity.

No Child Left Behind: Plenty Are

In 2002, the federal government became the watchdog for learning in the United States by instituting the No Child Left Behind legislation.

 

Included in that legislation is a mandate that 100% of all America's children become proficient at math and reading by 2014. That is like saying all doctors have to have a 100% success rate on surgeries and that all lawyers need to win 100% of cases. Here are some interesting points stemming from the government's march to perfection:

High school graduation rates in the United States hover at the 70% level. And if a child happens to be African American, Latino, or American Indian, the graduation rate is even lower.

 

Out of 34 countries, the United States ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.

 

Between 1995 and 2008, the United States slipped from ranking second in college graduation rates to 13th worldwide. Pressure on teachers and principals to produce high standardized test scores has produced the following:

In March, 2011, A nationwide standardized test, cheating scandal by teachers and principals was discovered in the Washington D. C. public schools when one parent blew the whistle by asking this question:

 

If my child is deemed proficient in math, then why can't she add and subtract?

 

In July, 2011, the lid was blown off the public school system in Atlanta, Georgia when 180 teachers and principals admitted to changing bubble scores on high stakes tests. Investigations are underway are also underway in other states.

Social Media: Not Just a Front Porch Conversation

Empathic Education is not a touchy-feeling luxury. It is a necessity. The real-time evidence of this necessity hits home with a phenomena, unique and peculiar to this young century.

 

Today, with the rise of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, our neighbors can be from anywhere on planet earth.

 

For example, if Facebook were a nation, its 600 million users would be the third largest country in the world right behind China and India. The rise of social media networking as a humanitarian vehicle has, since Hurricane Katrina, become a force to be reckoned with.

 

Facebook , Twitter, You Tube and Skype, viewed by some as mere frivolities for those with a lot of time on their hands, has also become a driving force in humanitarian relief and citizen revolt against dictatorships. These efforts require finely honed empathic skills.

 

For instance, the tsunami in Japan showcases social media's powerhouse capacity. Nine days after the earthquake, the US Ambassador to Japan, John Roos picked up a message on his Twitter stream, requesting US military help to transfer seriously ill patients from a hospital in Iwaki city.

A year ago, this direct plea for help would have been impossible. With a Twitter account, help was on the way. Efforts had failed by going through the usual channel of the local newspaper. Overwhelmed local authorities apparently took no notice.

 

Here's another example: The Egyptian revolution used Facebook to plan peaceful demonstrations. In June of 2010, a Facebook invitation for an event titled: The Day of the Revolution Against Torture, Poverty Corruption and Unemployment, received 80,000 clicks for yes.

 

The subsequent, peaceful demonstration on the banks of the Nile River, brought citizens, dressed in black, with their backs turned to Egypt. Instructions clearly written on Facebook were this: stand five feet apart so as not to beak Egyptian laws against public demonstration; be absolutely silent, no signs, and after one hour, walk away. The organizers were five tech-savvy activists who do not know one another.

 

Thus began the spark that culminated in the 28 day peaceful revolution that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak 30 year reign of terror.

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