We are talking about education more often than usual in our community because a school bond issue will be sent before the voters in May. We all want a quality education for every child, but so often we miss the target because the definition of quality changes from generation to generation and even from decade to decade. I contemplate questions like: Will young people today be as responsible and hard working as my generation? Are we preparing our young to solve the problems the world faces in the years ahead? Will today’s children need different skills and abilities to navigate successfully in society?
In light of these questions, I read with interest The New York Times, March 30 Opinion where Thomas L. Friedman described the challenges facing today’s young people. He writes, “My generation had it easy. We got to “find” a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to “invent” a job.” He asks Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist who wrote Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World , “What do young people need to know today?” “Every young person will continue to need basic knowledge, of course,” Wagner said. “But they will need to be self-motivated even more.” He describes self-motivated children as curious, persistent and risk-takers. “Children who are motivated will learn new knowledge and skills continuously,” writes Wagner. “They will be able to find new opportunities or create their own, and this ability will be increasingly important as many traditional careers disappear.”
Friedman and Wagner’s conclusions increased my concerns about educating our youth, and I was on the look-out for curious, persistent, and willing to take risks children. To my surprise and delight, I found seventeen, 10, 11, and 12 year old girls gathered together in a small space at the Holdrege Public Library last Friday, April 5 who fit the Wagner’s description of children who will successfully navigate the 21st Century. Grace Maloley and her mother, Ashley Maloley planned the Meet the Author and Book Signing Party, invited author, Michelle McCormick and Grace’s friends who also were fans of Priscilla Willa.
Grace had read book 1 of the Priscilla Willa Party Planner series written by Michelle McCormick who also writes for the Nebraska Rural Living Blog. Grace adored the book and was excited to meet the author. (see Grace and author, Michelle McCormick in the photo to the right)
Michelle spoke to her young audience about the beginnings of her writing career. She told about her lifetime interest in reading, and she and the girls shared the titles and authors of their favorite books. She told about her own personal development as a writer. Michelle said, “Writers like to write, and they write about whatever topics interest them. Write without thought of perfect spelling and punctuation. Keep a journal and write something in it every day.”
I looked at the faces of the girls as Michelle spoke. Every face turned toward Michelle like sunflowers follow the sun, and when Michelle described how she started the Priscilla Willa Party Planner series of books, their hands shot-up to ask serious questions about, Priscilla, Spas and Jollette, characters in the book. Their curiosity about writing a story and developing characters was evident, and delight and excitement about the story registered in their voices.
Michelle facilitated a group storytelling experience for them, and every girl participated with enthusiasm. These 17 young writers and readers of books talked books and writing stories for two hours without a thought of a break even though a Priscilla Willa party cake awaited them. Their persistence and interest in learning impressed me. I felt a sense of relief sweep over me because I met 17 self-motivated young people who easily acquire new knowledge and skills and learn continuously, and there are some among them who will surely create something new and helpful to society, maybe a book.
To satisfy your curiosity about Priscilla Willa Party Planner check out www.PriscillaWillaPartyPlanner.com