On October 23, 2012 Jonathan Fanton, interim director of The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, made some closing remarks for a panel on the United States’s global educational competitiveness hosted by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Closing Comments — Classroom to Career Forum
October 23, 2012
On behalf of President Jennifer Raab, I want to thank Stan Litow and his team for organizing a stimulating dialogue on the challenge of how we reimagine education to be an engine for individual opportunity and for increased global competitiveness of our nation.
It is a pleasure to be here with my friend, Arne Duncan, with whom I made common cause in Chicago when I was president of the MacArthur Foundation and he CEO of the Public Schools. Arne, your vision, creative programs, determination, and results fire our optimism about a brighter future for our children and our country.
Today’s event is emblematic of the mission of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. This is a place where business leaders, government officials, scholars and the general public come to discuss and openly debate the critical issues facing our city and state, our nation and the world.
No issue is more important to our future than how education and training can advance economic recovery and strengthen US competitiveness. Franklin Roosevelt confronted that challenge during the Great Depression.
At the College of William and Mary in 1934, he said, “The purpose of education [is] to educate … broadly. … The necessities of our time demand that men [and women] avoid being set in grooves, that they avoid the occupational pre-destination of the older world, and that in the face of change and development in America, they must have a sufficiently broad and comprehensive conception of the world in which they live to meet its changing problems with resourcefulness and practical vision.”
Those words are good advice to us and to the rising generation.
For my closing thought I draw insight from John Seely Brown’s recent book The Power of Pull. He urges us to recognize that a “Big Shift” has occurred: the power of “Pull” has replaced “Push” as the critical paradigm. “Push” is the well-ordered, top-down world we all grew up in, a world where education occurred at a defined time with a structured curriculum. The new world of “Pull” honors individual initiative, celebrates collaboration, respects serendipity, sees learning as a continual process and understands that “the needs of participants can not be well anticipated in advance.”
So as we seek to collaborate to improve the quality of education and its connection to jobs and economic growth, we should keep in mind that qualities like adaptability and reliance are critical in the new world of “Pull.”