I've been laying out, lately, how having every kid start a business in our new kind of school could cultivate intellectual superpowers, deep teamwork, ecstatic joy, and real science. But today I'd to suggest something bigger:
Having kids repeatedly work together to kick off social entrepreneurships could cultivate a generation of kids who actively seek to mend the world.
What we're talking about doing, in all of this, is training kids to pay attention to problems. We're inculcating a habit of regularly watching the world (inside the classroom, outside the classroom) in order to spot inefficiencies, injustices, and suffering.
When you begin to look at the world this way, you see problems everywhere. People treat clerks like robot kiosks. People litter in parks. Spaces are ugly. Grade schoolers are addicted to video games; middle schoolers are addicted to texting.
(Note that just seeing problems is a fantastic way to become depressed! Those who would descend into such misery need to have a dependable lifeline — yet another reason our new kind of schools will be investing so much in interweaving a well-being curriculum with every other piece of our school day.)
We'll be training students to go beyond noticing problems — we'll be training them to understand them. Our kids will be used to asking the crucial question: "What's causing this?"
Rarely will the answer to that be simple! This is where students will use their learning in economics, in sociology, in anthropology, in game theory, in history, and more. And they'll draw upon their understanding of psychology and their experience in empathetic first-person storytelling to peer at the problem from a multitude of viewpoints.
So often we fall into the lazy assumption that bad things are caused by people who are attempting to be bad — but that's oh-so-rarely the case. To fix problems, we need to understand what drives people, and how those drives combine into emergent, complex patterns.
And they'll go beyond just understanding problems — they'll be accustomed to asking: "Where might I intervene?" Using some out-of-the-box thinking strategies, they'll imagine all sorts of potential fixes, and using Lean methodology, they'll start experimenting with them, and measuring the results.
Here's one of the tragedies of modern schooling:
Teens have incredible power. Schooling wastes that power.
But we can change that. High school can become a flight simulator for spotting and alleviating the problems that beset us.
And after getting this training — after acquiring these habits — students can graduate to tackling the big world problems.
Can our new kind of schools cultivate kids who actually can improve the human condition? I'm led to think so.