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Shapers of the Future

Merry Sorrells
When I was growing up, my family enjoyed reading the Chicago Tribune each Sunday.  Our dad would read aloud his favorite comics (we called them "funnies") and then he would hand them to us to read and play the puzzles and games.  One of my favorites was Dick Tracy, a square-jawed, forward thinking, intelligent police detective who sported a wristwatch that was also a two-way radio.  Other iconic forms of entertainment throughout my childhood were cartoon families such as the Jetsons and the Flintstones. 
When I was growing up, my family enjoyed reading the Chicago Tribune each Sunday.  Our dad would read aloud his favorite comics (we called them "funnies") and then he would hand them to us to read and play the puzzles and games.  One of my favorites was Dick Tracy, a square-jawed, forward thinking, intelligent police detective who sported a wristwatch that was also a two-way radio.  Other iconic forms of entertainment throughout my childhood were cartoon families such as the Jetsons and the Flintstones. While the Flintstones lived in prehistoric times--a world of primitive contraptions powered by birds and dinosaurs, and cars propelled by the driver's feet--the Jetsons lived in the year 2062.  Theirs was a futuristic wonderland of elaborate robotic contraptions, automated flying cars, and fanciful inventions. And then there was Maxwell Smart, a counterintelligence agent who communicated through a phone in his shoe.

I write this in the context of having just read the January 2015 National Geographic Magazine in which experts and futurists were asked to forecast coming changes for our families and communities over the next 5 to 50 years.  These predictions include:
  • driverless cars sharing the roads with conventional cars, and subscription auto services
  • subscriptions for access to things, taking the place of owning items such as smartphones, cars, and software
  • a new religion based around the environment or digital technology
  • a decrease in divorce and an increase in commuter marriages
  • technology-based medicine and health care including sequenced genomes to access personalized treatments
  • health parameters measured at home with diagnostic devices and smartphones
  • 3-D printed affordable exoskeletons and prosthetic devices
  • exponential growth in technology which will facilitate problem-solving, addressing issues of disease, poverty, hunger, energy, and scarcity
  • mortality as a solvable technical problem
  • a 100 percent clean energy economy, fossil-fuel free, and climate stabilization
I'm beginning to feel like Wilma Flintstone living in a Jane Jetson world.  It's all so hard to imagine, but at the same time I know all those predictions are entirely possible.  My guess is that the above prophesies are just the tip of the iceberg!  The challenge for today's educators is how to prepare our students to successfully navigate the fast-paced technological world they are growing into.  All of this makes me grateful for the originators of our St. Martin's Mission Statement. We view our mission as our mandate.
We prepare our students to thrive in college and in life through faith, scholarship and service.  
It has become abundantly clear that preparing our students for life is equally important as preparing them for college.  In fact, colleges and universities are grappling with the same dynamic, the mission of preparing our young people to meet and overcome the unforeseen challenges of tomorrow.  Equipping them with the ability to think critically and analytically, identify and solve problems, create and design solutions, effectively communicate, interact comfortably in a global community, and collaborate with a variety of thinkers and doers has become the focus of today's teaching and learning.  Fostering motivated, dedicated learners to thrive as bright, active and engaged citizens in a multi-faceted world has become the end goal. 
At St. Martin's we combine all of this, and underscore it with faith.  Faith is the solidifying, fortifying ingredient.  With faith our students can be open to change and confident in their ability to adapt.  Our challenging academics, the Idea and STeaM Labs, the depth of our enrichment programs, and a priority of serving others has the St. Martin's graduate well-positioned to thrive in college and in life.  The world depicted in my childhood cartoons and comics has arrived.  It is an exciting time to be an educator, a shaper of future!
 
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