Walking through the streets of small town, midwestern America, I’m reminded again of perspective. This year, I’ve been reading, discussing, tweeting, blogging about 21st century learning. I’m reading Ken Robin’s book now, Out of Our Minds, about creativity and how that’s what direly needed in today’s education because the world is changing. Fast.
But, I’m walking through a small town in Nebraska named Broken Bow. It’s a friendly town. On the town square, they’re selling fireworks from a trailer run by the BBVFD (Broken Bow Volunteer Fire Department). We buy some because they’re cheap and look like fun. A kid there offers to loan us 4 cents if we need more money.
This is a town of old, rambling house with wraparound porches and wooden stairs that sag from humidity and heat. In a town of 3,600, there are 19 churches of all denominations. Bikes are scattered throughout yards–signs of children running off to video games, dinner, ice cream trucks. Pigeons coo from rooftops. Pickup trucks line the town, large oak trees shade green lawns. God Bless America signs, flags waving for the 4th of July. Plastic lawn furniture, set with plastic plates for a family of four. As I walk around in the already sweltering morning humidity, old men with bellies hanging over their belt buckles, say good morning. It’s a quiet Friday morning.
I walk past storefronts of insurance agencies, lawyers, plumbers, a mortuary. A man this morning is driving around town in a small cart with a paint sprayer. He’s fixing up the lines on crosswalks–repainting them. Construction workers in hard hats are sitting in their pickup drinking coffee before they head off to their site.
School’s out for summer. They’ve been out since May 29th. Kids come in gangs to buy homemade cinnamon rolls from the local bakery. Are they thinking about 21st century learning? Is anyone here thinking about it. Are they thinking we need a revolution in education? I honestly have no idea. Are they preparing for new jobs? Is everything changing?
Things here seem the same as they did in the small towns in Iowa that I’ve visited with my husband’s family for the last 20 years. On the surface, everything seems the same. It’s harder to see the radical changes that are going on here than they are in Tokyo.
I’ve got family who work as plumbers, welders, in construction, at pork processing plants. Have those jobs changed radically? Won’t we still need all of those jobs? Does everyone need a revolution?