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The future is in good hands with new generations

Time to let young adults take the lead problem -solving current issues


Last updated 11/8/2018 at 4:59pm


I did my student teaching at Shadle Park High School several years ago. I was a nontraditional student in that I had a full Air Force career behind me and was significantly older than most teacher candidates.

I walked into my assigned class and introduced myself to my mentor teacher. He took one look at the mature guy with a full beard and said, “You got it.”

I never saw him again. I was left with 15 advanced students who were as leery of me as I was of them. The text book had “Current World Problems” printed on the front and our next lesson was to be the chapter on “Forces that Unite and Divide.”

We hadn’t gotten very far when one bright girl in the front said that the same forces that unite one group, divide that group from others. It didn’t take us long to determine that the text was woefully inadequate.

Having no better idea and zero guidance, I challenged the class to develop a model with which we could examine our dynamic geopolitical environment. It took us about a week and a half before the class came up with the “Universal Web of Entities.”

I thought it was an ingenious model wherein every entity within the defined universe is connected to every other entity. The defined universe can be world political systems, world economy or even nature.

The web tends toward stability which explains why even bad systems resist change. Once disturbed, however, the web ripples through unintended consequences until it achieves a new stability.

It is a great model of reality, and we used it for the remainder of my term. I still use it to explain happenings and to predict outcomes.

The web tells us that some things are better left alone. Ten years ago, we had national problems that far overshadowed the shortcomings of our health care system.

But, our political leaders, in their infinite wisdom, decided to totally redesign the whole structure. The result is a mess.

Many Americans don’t know what coverage they have or what they can expect next year. Politicians point fingers at one another and know less about what is going on than the average citizen. We went from the best health care in the world to chaos. My students could have predicted this.

Ten years ago, the Washington state minimum wage was designed for entry level positions.Our omniscient Legislature changed it such that everyone would draw a living wage. There are no longer jobs where kids can learn a work ethic and professional skills.

Additionally, when the state began setting rules that used to be management prerogatives, they couldn’t go back, they could only go forward.

Once the web is disturbed, it can’t be set back the way it was. So, the Legislature had to expand into sick leave. They did not foresee that the record keeping for small businesses would be so burdensome that they would be forced to let some part time employees go.

My students could have predicted that.

Even now, I am convinced that those bright teenagers taught me much more than I taught them. The only thing I did was to give them a challenge and get out of their way. We need to do that with more of our problems.

Not long ago, we were the young bright generation with the future in our hands. At some point, however, we got lost in idealistic liberal arts colleges and ceased to solve problems.

Instead, we joined Greenpeace and thought we could change the world with protests and rhetoric. When that didn’t work, we tried self-righteous anger and here we are today.

We have given the next generation ample problems to work on. We now need to get out of the way and let them solve them.

Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and long-time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free-lance columnist for over 19 years.


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