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2 Questions for Life: Powerful Strategies to Guide Critical Thinking

the present. Swiftly passing years within the school system create an illusion of change in an environment where there is little time or encouragement to step back and reflect upon real change.

Meanwhile, with every ring of the bell and beep of the buzzer, with every graduation and matriculation, the nonacademic world is changing. Things move fast in this outside world, far faster than within the confines of institutions such as schools, despite the illu-sion of change that oftenprevails there. These changes in the outside world are not abstractions, and they are not challenges students can deal with after graduation. Nor are they changes educators can ignore because they seem to involve only young people. To think so would be myopic. These forces have a direct and immediate impact on what takes place in the classroom—and where they do not now, they soon will. Consider just a few changes that have recently had an impact on our schools: privatization, charter schools, teachers’ pay structures, political reforms, economic trends, infrastructure concerns, and environmental requirements.

The Reality of Change

These big changes come from the realm of continuously de-veloping trends in demographics, global economics, generational differences, a retiring workforce, ever-evolving technology, energy consumption, environmental issues, and a constant blend of language and cultures.

Asia has emerged as an enormous player in the international marketplace. The level of education in this part of the world exceeds our own, particularly in the areas of math and science. The workers of India, China, the Philippines, and other up-and-coming countries enjoy increased job security and employment in fields that Americans cannot or will not work in. In this country a huge retire-ment wave of 77 million professionals will create an employment vacuum, and there will be a shortage of workers to fill it.

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