Listening to a recent Tim Ferriss podcast got me thinking about an interesting reality: Every generation has a major profession toward which smart young people gravitate. In the ’50s and ’60s, it was space rockets. In the late ’70s and ’80s, it was Wall Street. In the ’90s and ’00s, it was tech startups. Today, they build apps.
Is building an app a noble venture for a young person? There’s no doubt that some apps are changing the world. Navigation, communication, purchasing, and learning have all advanced by a large margin–I’d argue for the better–because of ingenuity on the mobile platform. But it’s important to put the present in perspective and question whether we’re inspiring our young people to solve today’s most pressing problems. I mean, someone who goes to Wall Street instead of NASA isn’t doing anything wrong, but choosing to further our knowledge of the world is so important and heroic.
As educators, we must show students the good and bad in this world. They must know the good so that they can marvel and fall in love with learning. They must know the bad so that they cultivate the desire to fix what they can. The 21st century is presenting some perplexing problems that children today must fix when they’re adults. Teaching them to dream big is imperative.