Formula(ting) 21st Century Solutions

During Super Bowl XLIX, Similac ran an ad proclaiming “Welcome to the Sisterhood of the Motherhood.” The premise of the commercial based on the intensely scrutinized, endlessly criticized sects of motherhood.

The ad features stay-at-home moms, working moms, breast milk-only moms, reusable diaper moms, and stay-at-home dads, to name a few. At the climax of the ad, all the conflicting philosophies come to a head and the parents are on the brink of a brawl. Suddenly, in dramatic slow motion, we see a rogue baby stroller break loose and careen down the park hill. Instantly all mothers (and fathers) are on alert, running en masse to save the baby. Upon rescuing the baby, the parents begin looking one another in the eye, shaking hands and hugging in newly realized mutual understanding. The banner across the screen reads “No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first.”

The world of 21st century education is similarly siloed, and the relationships between the various camps equally partisan and volatile. This rift is especially pronounced between the school world and the business world. Those in the business world – and in the business of hiring the recent graduates – are often dissatisfied with the incoming talent pool and are critical of the methodology in place that educated today’s young workers. Meanwhile, educators find themselves on the defensive and subsequently insulate themselves against these critiques from individuals who have no idea what the world looks like from the front of the classroom.

Having lived and worked in both of these camps I can tell you this: both sides are right. And the intents of both sides are the same, just like the Similac commercial. The mothers in the park want the best for their babies; their methodologies, though varying, are all with the same end goal in mind. Similarly, both the business world and the education world want the same things too: well educated, hardworking, critical thinking individuals who will graduate ready to innovate and execute in the workforce.

Neither side will achieve this outcome from their respective silos since, in the 21st century, very little – if anything – is accomplished in a vacuum. It is time for each “side” to look one another in the eye, shake hands and realize that it takes a village to educate a child. Business world, I ask you, what are you doing to open your doors to hungry learners and resource-starved educators? Educators, I ask you, what have you done to connect yourself and your students to the ever-changing world for which you are preparing these youth? To all, I challenge you: check your fears at the door. We all want classrooms full of engaged students today who will soon graduate into the productive employees, business owners and government officials of tomorrow.

Bringing it back to the Similac sentiments: no matter what our professional title, we are all invested in and responsible for the educational well-being of the students in our communities. Fortunately this is easier to start accomplishing than one might think. There are plenty of people in and out of the classroom hungry for connections. Will you commit to being part of a 21st century solution?

Stay tuned in to this blog for more in-depth looks at what a 21st century solution can look like and ideas for how to get involved.

Risa is always hungry for educator opinions and insights. You can contact her at

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About Risa

Risa is a former educator from the state of Kansas. Currently she works as Program Manager for MyTRAX at Lumen Touch, is a co-curator of ShiftED and co-leads the Lumen8 Summer Educator Experience. Risa is deeply passionate about and engaged in bridging the gap between the education world and business world in order to develop stronger teachers, stronger students and a stronger workforce for the 21st century and beyond.

One thought on “Formula(ting) 21st Century Solutions

  1. Pingback: Welcome to ShiftED | shiftingeducation

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