What assets can we leave behind for our children? It could be tangible things, like property or money. It may be more abstract things, such as knowledge or technology. Money, depending on how we utilize it, has the potential to create something with more value than money, but it could also disappear without leaving anything of value. In the field of science, the dynamite created by Alfred Noble has proved to be efficient in clearing land and buildings, but on the other hand was used as weaponry in war and took many lives. An asset can be for our benefit or our detriment, depending on how we make use of them.
And we, as people, are responsible for utilizing assets responsibly, and also for creating new assets and things of value.
The only beings who can bring about happiness in our lives, enrich our societies, nurture our Earth and ensure a bright future for our children, are ourselves as human beings. We ourselves are responsible for our current lives as well as those of our children and grandchildren.
What must we do in order to fulfill our role? I believe that we must learn. We human beings are born with the ability to learn. This ability, however, must adapt to be able to respond to and work with the environment and the changes that come with it. Education supports this adaptation.
Education, though, must also adapt, to the environment and to the changes that occur around us – both now, and in the future.
If education were simply about accumulating knowledge, those who received this type of education will be quickly surpassed and overridden by machines. If education were simply about gaining skills, those who received this type of education will lose their jobs to poorer countries and be dictated to by wealthier ones. If education were simply about processing information, those who received this type of education will soon be confounded by false information, lose faith and become useless.
Our role is to nurture our ability to continuously update our knowledge and skills without becoming satisfied and complacent with what we have; to nurture our ability to seek out truth and engage with valuable information, and not become overwhelmed by the myriad of information available; and to nurture our ability to create new values from interacting and communicating with people with diverse backgrounds and value systems – for now and for the future.
Furthermore, so that the next generation can fulfill this role to the best of their abilities with healthy bodies and healthy minds, we must continuously examine ourselves and improve as people and as educators.
As we say in Japan, “People are what make education”.
Let us, as a community, leave behind priceless assets for our children.