How to Pivot Privilege into Racial Justice

How to Pivot Privilege into Racial Justice

How to Pivot Privilege into Racial Justice

Mainstream media broadcasts, social media posts, and many voices advocating for racial equality often point to white privilege as being complicit in social injustice, especially racism.  In many cases, white privilege is spoken of only in the negative.  However, people are less likely to create real change from feelings of guilt or shame than they are from a place of empowerment.  Privilege does not have to be a bad thing when it is used to empower people to educate themselves and others.  In fact, I think it needs to be seen as a potential power for good.

Pivoting from Guilt and Shame to Bold and Empowered

In the fight against racism, many of those with privilege (be it white or any other form of privilege) are made to feel guilty for having it. This can lead to defensiveness in the form of backlash, or silence and complacency which is equally negative in the fight for social justice.  They may feel powerless and perhaps even disincentivized to say or do anything to make positive change. When one operates from a place of guilt, the potential for embarrassment may weigh more than the risk of failing from a place of power.

According to this article on prospect.org, “Dismantling structural racism does require white people to become more than a little uncomfortable as they both acknowledge and relinquish their power in order to achieve racial progress. But that enlightenment needs to lead to action, not just deeper reflection. Otherwise, it becomes part of the problem.”

I believe that operating from guilt is often analogous to treating an infection with an antibiotic: if you take only enough to make the symptoms subside, the infection will likely come back even stronger. The Blackout Tuesday movement could possibly be viewed as an example of operating out of guilt or shame.  Blackout Tuesday took place June 2nd, 2020 in which participants posted a black box on their social accounts with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday.  A scroll through your social feeds on this day showcased a sea of black boxes and a quick search of the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday returns more of the same.  But does this show of solidarity do anything to help rectify racial injustice in America? According to Forbes, it does not:

“Before you participate in Blackout Tuesday, keep this in mind: It’s not working.  The images and hashtags are causing communication issues between peaceful protesters and activists, according to social media experts.  A recent report noted how the disruption could actually cause more harm than good.”

The article goes on to say, “The real answer is to inform and educate-to keep the channels open wide and sound the alarms as clearly as possible.”

As I tell my audiences, privilege is a tool in the toolbox of a percentage of any population.  Rather than instill guilt and shame, why not motivate and mobilize those with this tool to use it for good--to pivot privilege into social responsibility? It is not enough to post a black box with the appropriate hashtag, nor is it enough to march in protest. We must pivot our privilege and stand up for anti-racism which entails taking real actions and educating ourselves and others on social injustice. I believe that we should all begin with some self introspection including implicit bias training.

Anti-racism activist Peggy McIntosh famously wrote White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack in 1988, defining the “invisible” privileges of White America.  How can we use this privilege and its associated power in the good fight of racial inequality?

As the Forbes article mentioned, education is key.

Education as Centerpiece of Potential

The best place to foster this is in public schools, as there is no stronger force than education to defeat social injustice and solve the world’s most significant problems.

In this article published by educationpost.org titled, “Here’s What I Wish White Teachers Knew When Teaching My Black Children,” writer and educator Afrika Afeni Mills addresses the gaps in text books and classroom conversations regarding Black history.

She says, “In high school, college and your teacher prep program, you no doubt were taught something about race in America, but it is highly unlikely that you learned the truth about the Black experience. It is likely, for instance, that you’ve been taught little to nothing about the pre-enslavement contributions of Black people to the world, the horrors and impact of centuries of enslavement, post ‘Emancipation’ Jim Crow laws and practices and the many ongoing racially based systemic injustices such as mass incarceration, housing discrimination, wealth disparities and lack of equal access to quality education, health care and more.”

Public schools would serve their students well to incorporate learning materials that provide a full spectrum education on Black history and the Black experience.  Education is the key to the social injustice crisis.

The Use of Privilege by Icons of Social Justice

I often tell my audiences, “True leadership is elevating those below you to rise above you.” This is true now as much as it ever has been, but history gives us some great examples. 

Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi’s prophecy of peace and non-violence continues to impact our world today, over 150 years after his birth.  According to this article by the Huffington Post, “Above all, Mahatma believed in the power of dialogue.”

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”  According to this article by Global Citizen, “Not only did Mandela liberate an entire country from the grips of the racist apartheid system, but he also continued the fight for the world’s most vulnerable people until the very end of his life.”

Mother Theresa
In 1946, Mother Theresa received the call on her life to take to the slums of Calcutta India to tend to the sick and poor.  She is often referred to as “the nun who became a saint,” as she was canonized as Saint Theresa.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity, an organization devoted to her cause of tending the sick and poor around the world.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Known for leading the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. advanced the movement through non-violence and civil disobedience, inspired by the non-violent actions of Mahatma Gandhi.  This article by the Washington Post discusses the similarities between protest tactics used after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the recent death of George Floyd and what has-and hasn’t-changed in that 52-year timespan.

The Need for Cultural Competency

RELATED POST: Has Coronavirus infected equity in education millennials may be the vaccine

In this previous post, I explain how educators can teach cultural competency.  Educators can help those with privilege understand it and encourage them to think about how they can use it for the good of social justice. The arts and music can be a key way of building bridges between cultures.  In my article The Power of the Arts in School to Foster Peace, I explain how the arts can also be instrumental in helping students find unity and cultivating empathy for other cultures.

As the fight for social justice wages forth, let us actualize the power of our privilege and use that power to educate ourselves and our children to bring forth a better tomorrow.

 

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Six Challenges for Schools Once Students Return

Six Challenges for Schools Once Students Return

Will you be ready this fall when students return (hopefully)?  Schools have been in crisis mode for the past 6-8 weeks due to COVID-19 Coronavirus and consequential closings.  While educators have been focused on transitioning to online learning to save the semester, it may be time to accept that the gaps probably cannot be narrowed enough while students are still learning from home.  Pivoting the focus from this school year to next might be the best chance to level the field.  

There are many challenges that schools will have to overcome, but I’d like to focus on six... Each will be critical and solutions must be ready to implement--the virus gave educators no time to pivot, but there is now time to plan for recovery.  

1. Supporting Educational Staff 

In this USA Today article, a picture of what life in the classroom will look like when schools reopen comes into focus.  It includes many things that you might imagine such as hand-washing, routine sanitizing of surfaces, social distancing, and more. 

The ramifications of social distancing, however, extend beyond simply greater distance and spacing in the classroom (not to mention cafeterias and school buses).  This could mean smaller class sizes but with the same number of students to educate.  Due to this, schools will need more teachers and staff in order to be able to teach smaller groups of students together.  

The article quotes Jake Bryant, a former teacher and associate partner at the global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.  He says, “I don’t believe reopening will be a linear path to normalcy.”  McKinsey & Company released a report with ideas for schools to consider as they plan to reopen:

“U.S. schools could consider bringing back vulnerable students first for more one-on-one help, or scheduling more days of in-person instruction for them.  Students with disabilities, or those whose families rely on schools for food or other assistance, could attend in-person three days a week, while more highly resourced students with access to technology at home could attend two days a week.”  

Bryant goes on to say schools will have to get better at remote learning, whether because of another virus outbreak, a need to quarantine infected students, or because school days need to be split up to create more space in the classrooms. 

All of this means that administrators will need to prepare their staff more than ever by investing in their schools’ team to help prepare, supporting them throughout, and empowering them in the post-Coronavirus classroom.  This means an investment in new teacher orientation, continuing education, technology education and practice, as well as in self-care and student care with the newly added stresses of health safety. All these together will demand new and greater skills from the education team and schools must prepare to resource and support their staff in this new environment.  Moreover, it might have to occur as teacher turnover rises and budgets fall.

2. Remedial Education 

In an effort to continue delivering education to students at home while “sheltering in place,” one unintended consequence has been the obvious gap widening into a chasm between socioeconomic sectors of the student body.  

In essence, technology has widened the learning gap due to issues including access to high-speed internet and in some cases a lack of computers and tech devices, or technical inexperience of parents and students at home (not to mention many teachers who are educating online for the first time).  This has resulted in a segment of students who will have failed to progress at the same rate as their peers.   

In this article by Brookings Institution, they note that, “The worst kind of learning is to sit passively and listen, and this may be the form that most students will receive during school closures.  It serves no one well, especially those who are the furthest behind.”  A student struggling with the material being taught and then also struggling with eLearning methods has an additional barrier that ultimately results in less mastery of material while others move forward.

School leaders must plan for new levels of remedial education that will be needed.  Early assessments will be important to identify where to place students.  

3. Technology Buy-in

While the technology has not only been challenging for parents in terms of helping children access the necessary materials and content, students have also had different experiences with technology during these months at home.  For example, time spent on games like Fortnite increased (CNET.com) and if students had less than invigorating online classroom experiences, there can be a disinterest and lack of buy-in for school technology from students.  It’s difficult for elearning to compete with games like Fortnite, but the reality is it does.

 

RELATED POST: Can Time Spent Playing Online Games Help Teens Develop Cultural Competency?

 

In a post-Coronavirus world, the partnership between parents and teachers will need to increase, making family engagement a key task and opportunity for administrators and educators to ensure that elearning is respected.

Teachers may also need to “up their game” with the digital side of teaching and find helpful technology that deeply engages students and stimulates their interest much like games do.

But make no mistake, increased technology should not result in decreased confidence-building human interaction, such as simple positive reinforcement. Teachers who voluntarily reinforce positive learning with their students will get greater results when the work is turned in digitally.

4. Remediation for ESL Students

Along with what was already mentioned in point #2 above, remediation for ESL students (English as a Second Language) is an important and unique item to address within schools.  This may also prove to be especially challenging.  

A large percentage of K-12 students in the US do not speak English at home and now having lacked daily exposure to classes and friends in an English context, they may be especially far behind. 

This article by ednc.org interviews Joan Lachance, associate professor of education and program director for UNC Charlotte’s Teaching English as a Second Language Programs.  She says, “From a language development perspective and even from a brain development perspective, we know that language development is a social construct and kids need to sit with each other and have lots and lots of peer interaction.”

The article also mentions the reliance ESL students have on body language in the classroom to communicate with their teacher and other students, something non-transmissible over the internet.

This gap means that these students will need special attention and instruction with a focus on English language learning (or relearning) and potentially the need to repeat material that was assigned during the stay-at-home period in order to ensure mastery of it.

While some ESL students need to go back and focus on English basics and the material that was taught previously, other students have moved on.  This will require special attention by school staff and a plan to tackle this important issue of remediation for ESL students.

5. Data Gap

The lack of data from test results due to the cancelling of assessments makes the task of teachers and administrators even harder in the new school year.  With the areas noted above having an impact on learning that was accomplished, a new plan for testing and retesting may need to happen to monitor progress. 

In fact, our whole approach to placement in a particular grade level and personalized education in general may have shifted dramatically, or will need to.

This article by the National Conference of State Legislatures states several schools have altered their admissions policies, making the ACT and SAT optional for college admission in lieu of cancelled testing. While this may be helpful in some cases for students wanting to enroll in college, at the K-12 level the data gap is a significant concern as teachers relied on this to assess student readiness to move on to other material and to ensure a baseline mastery of core material.  Without assessment data, will the subjective assessment of teachers be accurate enough to ensure students are ready to proceed?  Or, will more and more frequent testing need to be done to evaluate progress and fill the data gap? 

How a school system decides to work at this data gap issue needs to be determined soon so that a plan can begin to be put in place this summer prior to the start of the new school year.

6. Experiential Learning Pivot

As I wrote about in last month’s blog post, the primary pivot schools will need to make is to create experiential learning opportunities to ensure the most complete education and best prepare students for today’s work environment.  Much of this must happen through arts programs because the arts directly impacts the social-emotional well-being of every child.  This cannot be understated, and even though I am a strong music education advocate, we should revisit the important elements of home economics including the culinary arts.  For so many reasons (five, to be exact...read linked-post below), the culinary arts contributes to social skills, social-emotional learning, cultural competence, and so much more.

RELATED POST: Increasing Cultural Competency through Multi-sensory Culinary Experiences

 

Knowledge delivery can and should continue to have significant digital elements to it even once students are all back in school, but in a hybrid context that also involves creating experiences in and through school (including extra-curricular) to deepen that knowledge.  There must be a focus on equity in terms of access to technology, and if this cannot be guaranteed in the home, it has to be primarily offered in the classroom.

The big question is, how will educators best implement experiential and collaborative learning if we are still social distancing?  Technology can have a positive role in that too, as social media has proven. 

A Final Note

We must focus on four of the many c’s discussed in education: curiosity, communication, compassion, and critical thinking in new and creative ways.  The challenge for schools will be to not overlook these key items while dealing with the front-burner issues that the COVID-19 pandemic created.

Click below for a specialty curated checklist for teachers, administrators, and parents (extrapolating the most important parts of this post on how to prepare for back to school in a post covid world. 

 

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Has Coronavirus Infected Equity in Education? Millennials May Be the Vaccine?

Has Coronavirus Infected Equity in Education? Millennials May Be the Vaccine?

equity in education

The need to move education online without notice due to COVID-19 has made the distance between the haves and have nots more apparent.  Online access, network neutrality, and the ability to natively navigate the Internet are increasing socioeconomic disparity when it could, and ought to, be doing the exact opposite. 

As we look ahead to transitioning back into classrooms, a hybrid system of education incorporating digital and experiential learning is more critical than ever--not to mention that for many, “back to school” also means being able to have nutritious meals daily.  

I believe that the nation that does the above most successfully will emerge as a global superpower. Perhaps not immediately, but almost certainly once today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders. 

Incoming teachers and administrators are millennials who today excel over previous generations in two critical areas: integration of technology and advocacy for social justice.  Could they be the key to designing a truly 21st century education system with equity in education?

Millennials’ Transparency (and Dependency) with Technology

According to this article by Forbes, technology empowers millennials to change the world. The workforce is transforming fast and so are the needs of today’s high-potential employees. In this era of quickly changing technology, it is important to understand how technology has become an integral part of millennials’ goals to impact and change the world.”

While millennials are often depicted as lazy and non-committal, a Gallup poll mentioned in this Forbes article reveals that 87 percent value personal and professional growth, and they believe technology helps them achieve that.  The article goes on to say that millennials who feel their company offers an outlet to achieve personal and professional growth tend to remain loyal to their employer. 

It also notes that millennials crave feedback and communication and therefore request tech tools like instant messaging and group chat platforms from their employers.  This is another way they believe technology helps them shine in their careers. 

Their Proclivity for Social Justice

A recent article by Fast Company states, “Millennials are also optimistic, with 86% believing their actions can impact the world.” Platforms such as Facebook, Change.org, and Crowdfunding.com make it easy for millennials to feel like they can ignite change. Simple, everyday habits such as sharing viral Facebook posts, voting, signing online petitions, and using their dollars to support socially-conscious brands all add up to significant change across the global landscape over time. 

In the article, Fast Company mentions that one of the areas of concern most affecting millennials and inspiring them to invoke change is educational access.   This makes them a likely party to the solution of closing the digital gap in the educational space. 

The Need for Education to be a Hybrid System

According to the World Economic Forum, the shutdown of schools caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way students are educated around the globe, for better or worse. The article goes on to say that while the shutdown of schools has been “a catalyst for educational systems worldwide to search for innovative solutions in a relatively short period of time,” it will also widen the digital divide and equality gap.   

As we look forward into the future of education, traditional in-person lectures in the classroom will be complemented by digital learning tools such as live broadcasts and virtual reality experiences, allowing learning to be an “anytime anywhere” experience. 

But with digital innovations improving the educational system, what is to become of those left behind?  According to The World Economic Forum, 60% of the globe’s population is offline.  “Moreover, the less affluent and digitally savvy individual families are, the further their students are left behind. When classes transition online, these children lose out because of the cost of digital devices and data plans. “

Capacity must be built into our educational systems in order to shrink the digital gap.  If there’s anything we can learn about education during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is this.  The World Economic Forum article goes on to say, "Unless access costs decrease and quality of access increase in all countries, the gap in education quality, and thus socioeconomic equality will be further exacerbated. The digital divide could become more extreme if educational access is dictated by access to the latest technologies."

Final Note

With millennials attuned to technology and current social issues, will they be the "vaccine" needed to create a hybrid format in the wake of the COVID-19 education system "infection?"  They have the natural inclination for technology, the belief in their capacity to make a difference, and a leaning toward helping others. With that, will we let them invoke change to make digital learning more accessible to the less fortunate so that all students have the advantage of a hybrid education? Perhaps it is time to give them more space and room to lead.

We may find out sooner than later.

Let Me Help You Pivot Now

As a futurist who specializes in education, I can help you and your organization make the transition.  I have two keynotes that specifically address the above issues, each with a different emphasis but can also be combined: 

  • Reimagining Education to Create the Future We Need
  • Millennial Mojo, Building Tomorrow with Today’s Most Influential Generation.

Please learn more about my Keynotes by clicking below and let’s get the conversations started...your students deserve it!

 

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Coronavirus & Global Economy: Time for a Global Pivot?

Coronavirus & Global Economy: Time for a Global Pivot?

Coronavirus & Global Economy: Time for a Global Pivot?

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is rapid and the non-unified response is obliterating economies worldwide.  In the past we have had economic crises that spawned emotional reactions, however, this time we had an emotional reaction that has spawned an economic crisis. The lack of clear information and global leadership fueled a panic and even today we lack clarity on the best way to prevail.  With so many countries testing different strategies, perhaps we, as a global society (if such a thing still exists after this), will be better prepared next time.  

I write this today while stranded in Chile where the borders are now closed, a curfew is in effect, schools and restaurants are closed until at least May, social distancing is being advised and largely followed, and full lockdown seems imminent.  My friends in Italy tell me that their crisis is largely spreading within hospitals and hospice centers among patients with other comorbid diseases, and that healthcare workers are largely the carriers spreading it from one patient to another. France is in total lockdown indefinitely, declaring war on the invisible enemy.  And in the world’s two greatest democracies, India--which has a much smaller total number and growth rate of virus cases compared to the USA--has banned its 1.3 billion citizens from leaving their homes for 21 days to contain the spread, while the USA seems to be heading toward lifting restrictions and letting the virus run its natural course through the population. Even if our lives may not be at stake, our livelihoods most certainly are.

At the time of the writing of this article, over 459,000 people worldwide have been infected with the Coronavirus, with at least 20,000 confirmed fatalities according to Worldometers on 03/25/2020.  Nearly all States in the U.S. have now declared a State of Emergency as well (Business Insider). Businesses have had no choice but to cancel or, at a minimum, postpone many of their conferences and conventions, as well as other business travel and ventures. South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the largest conferences in the US with an attendance of over 400,000 last year, announced the cancellation of their March 2020 event (New York Times). Several of my keynote events have been postponed and my flights from Chile have been cancelled, leaving me stranded for an undetermined amount of time due to the closed borders and airline cutbacks (see New York Times). As a result, just about everyone will have to pivot.

Decentralization and democratization of knowledge is the future

I frequently lecture on the future of work, how technology and AI influences the job market, and why and how education must pivot in order to prepare youth for a global tomorrow.  Is such a message still relevant? Do I need to pivot as well?

I believe that technology will play an even larger role in our lives going forward as we are less likely to catch a communicable disease from a robot than from a human.  Today, private music teachers (my former profession) are forced to give lessons to students online and despite their resistance previously, students and teachers are discovering the benefits and shortcomings of this. The same is true with school students and teachers who are desperately trying to navigate best practices and are surely bound to discover them (see below where I have created a Think Tank for educators to share best practices).  Universities under fire for exorbitant tuition that has created an epidemic of outstanding student loans may soon realize that future applicants will opt to learn online at a proportional cost. As I always tell my audiences, decentralization and democratization of knowledge is the future. However, I may have miscalculated on the timing, as it has just become the present, globally.

I am a proponent of globalization as I believe in the modern age we are most resourceful as a global community--culturally, educationally,  economically, and environmentally. But the rapid spread of COVID-19 and worldwide discrepancies on how to manage it may suggest that we are safer and more prosperous within borders and preserving the right to choose within whose borders each of us wants to be in. The world travel that I have enjoyed, benefited from immensely, and still believe is the single greatest form of education may no longer be so accessible going forward.

United Airlines was the first U.S. carrier to cut domestic flight service amid fear the virus would cause ticket sales to dwindle, according to this article from the New York Times.  The latest is that American Airlines plans to cut domestic flights by 30% and global flights by 75% for April, with more cuts expected for May. They are also on a hiring freeze through June.  Since fear over the virus took root, United and American Airlines shares have lost a third of their value, with Delta Airlines also experiencing a tumultuous downward trend.  Italy has a complete ban on travel imposed through April 3rd, 2020 on its 60 million citizens. According to the South China Morning Post, two thirds of domestic China flights have been cancelled, with remaining flights selling for as little as $4.00 USD per ticket. The ripple effect on travel means that hotel bookings and restaurant dining are going to suffer significant losses.

Any possible resurrection will ultimately be driven by demand and not curtailed by restriction (hopefully), but emotions and fear are often harder to overturn than regulations.  As a result of the Coronavirus, airlines have taken the biggest hit seen since the attacks on September 11th, 2001 (New York Times). However, as we saw in the travel rebound since 9/11, time will likely be healing and business will return to normal if the impact of COVID-19 can be quickly contained.

Environmentally, the closure of borders appears to be revealing positive results thanks to the containment of many things economic and viral that impact a nation’s citizens.  We may be falling forward into a previous time--one in which we are more aware of our footprint, opportunity, and responsibility to the planet. With Venice canals hosting fish for the first time in ages (BBC) and smog over China vanishing, it makes one ask if actually humans are the virus and COVID-19 is the vaccine. How ironic would it be if we close borders in the name of nationalism but become more environmentally conscious globally?

Steps We can Take to Help

Educators (which today includes parents in more proactive roles) are at a key place of influence at this time. Through education, preparation and action, educators can have a positive impact.  With many school districts considering partial closures or moving to online delivery, educators need to prepare for alternative education methods. One example of innovation in this area is “PE with Joe”, recently developed and launched by YouTube Fitness Instructor Joe Wicks.  He’s taken it upon himself to create and deliver weekday PE routines for students to do at home. The 9 am daily routine has already attained millions of views from families in the US and UK (CNN).

Taking the classroom online is something educators need to be prepared to do, and something I have tried to facilitate through Ravi Unites Schools.  Our interactive “field trips” show how powerful technology is in creating cultural competence when travel is not always an option. This week I have taken it a step further and created a  Think Tank to help share best practices. All educators and administrators from around the world are not only welcome, but encouraged to join. The world is in this together, and education is the engine that drives us toward a solution...not just for times of COVID-19 quarantine, but for the impact today will have on tomorrow. The more questions all of us ask and more solutions all of us share, more students will benefit.

If you are an educator or administrator, please join TEACHING UNDER COVID-19, A RAVI UNITES SCHOOLS THINK TANK:  LinkedIn Group.

(if you have any issues with that link, copy and paste this URL in your browser to access the Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13843536/ )

 

Ravi is available for keynote speaking how education must pivot for cultural competence & equity

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had two Realtime Audio-Video Interactions scheduled with Shanti Bhavan in India: one with Bethel Elementary School in Virginia and another with Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire.  All of these schools are currently closed due to COVID-19 and these interactions will be rescheduled for later in the year.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions as we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools.

A number of school districts have inquired about online convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact/.

Why Travel is the Best Educational Investment

Why Travel is the Best Educational Investment

Why Travel is the Best Educational Investment

Traveling to other nations is ultimately the best education money can buy.  Whether through internships, a semester abroad, taking a gap year, or class trips, getting out of the classroom is key to learning essential life skills that only exist in the real world.  Travel is the type of learning that comes only by getting up and going because it’s not contained in the pages of textbooks or within the walls of a classroom. It offers skill development and learned competencies in a number of important areas.  

An article by the WYSE Travel Confederation published results from a survey conducted by The Wagner Group entitled, “Travel Improves Educational Attainment and Future Success.”  Four hundred adults who had taken an educational trip between the ages of 12-18 were surveyed, and the results conclude that:

  • 80% of participants said their educational travel experience sparked greater interest in what they were learning in school.
  • Over half of the participants received better grades as a result of their travel experience.
  • Adults who took education trips in their youth earned 12% more than their non-trip-going counterparts.
  • 57% of those who traveled as children went away to college.

The proof that educational travel is beneficial to children and young adults is evident. Therefore, let’s talk about the skills obtained through travel education that make it so vital to setting up our younger generations for success.

5 Key Skills Acquired through Travel Education

Travel education helps people grow, evolve, and mature in a number of areas including:

  • Experiential learning - In this article I explain that learning through experience is vital to equip our children for the real world.  This is something our schools are currently lacking. 
  • Problem-solving skills - Being in a foreign country forces one to be creative and resourceful when in a pinch. There will be new situations forcing one to solve problems and find solutions which helps develop critical life skills. 
  • Cross-cultural competence - The ability to effectively communicate with other cultures without bias, confusion, or fear is a vital skill needed in today’s real world, especially in a melting pot like the United States.  By traveling, we are placed in settings that enable us to broaden our capacity to relate well with people of different backgrounds and experiences. 
  • Empathy - Visiting other nations helps one understand that their way of looking at the world is not the only way, and there is space to include each individual’s perspective on life. 
  • Adapting to change - Overcoming culture shock is a lesson in adapting to an environment. Whether you know the native language, find yourself lost in a strange place, or don’t know a single soul, time spent in another nation teaches a major life lesson one cannot learn in books or school: the capacity to adapt to change. 

Tips and Tales of Education Ventures Abroad

For many US citizens, simply getting into Canada can be a harrowing experience.  I’m not joking, as that is possibly the border that I fear most (other than perhaps coming home to the USA which often feels more like an interrogation).  The intense questioning and scrutiny is an educational experience for sure. An American colleague in Iraq once told me not to worry about getting into Kurdistan. He said it was like walking into Canada.  From my experience, Kurdistan was much easier than Canada, and so was China, India, and even Russia.  Granted, many of these countries require you to get a visa which can be an ordeal, but once through the red tape, the world truly is your oyster.

But taking Kurdistan as an example, if you are a woman tourist where only 10% of the people seen in public are women (and most of them are veiled), it can be a very intimidating experience.  Just by entering this context as an outsider, potentially aggressive or at least uncomfortable situations for a woman could arise.   This is a good example of the importance of doing one’s homework in advance so that one can be culturally competent upon entering.  The situation can be very daunting if you don't understand it, but it can be a greatest experience if you are open to it and aware of the context. The point is to always take common sense precautions and do your research, but not be overly cautious and forego a once-in-a-lifetime cultural learning opportunity.

Mumbai, Moscow, and Tokyo

I recall walking down the streets of Mumbai, Moscow, and Tokyo.  In all of these places, I could barely communicate in the local languages but at least India has the benefit of English being the official language (leftover from the days of British colonization). It is widely spoken until you get off the beaten track, and getting off the beaten track is exactly the point.  In these cities and others, I always leave my hotel without a map, pick a direction, and walk. I not only don’t mind getting lost, but that is actually my objective.  Without fail, someone always notices when I am lost before I have gained the courage to ask for help. A stranger with whom I cannot communicate using words finds another way to express compassion, such as through intonation of the voice, a smile in the eyes, and other elements of humanity that leads me back to my hotel.  It never fails, and each time restores my faith in humanity.

Safety Precautions

One must be aware of risks and the potential to be taken advantage of as a tourist.  Be careful with money and do your research on local customs and known schemes (such as the Turkish woman on the streets of Paris asking if you speak english and wanting you to sign a petition...all while someone else picks your pocket!). This preparation can help you navigate in that context and is a good learning process that can help you evaluate other environments and different contexts, including entering a new employment situation. It just heightens your awareness and evaluation abilities.  In most parts of the world, you are only an Uber ride away from being saved if you do get too far off track.  So, make sure you are connected via mobile device and then forget you have that lifeline unless in danger.

When Traveling Abroad isn’t an Option

Not every family can afford to send their child on the semester abroad program or take an extended family vacation to Europe.  However, a family’s financial status need not stop someone from receiving the benefits and learning opportunities associated with different cultures. That is why I created Ravi Unites Schools --a program I host that enables classrooms around the world to connect to cultivate cultural competence through peer-to-peer learning.  These virtual field trips are viable alternatives to traveling overseas when leaving home simply is not an option.

The Best Education Money Can Buy


Traditional education does not have the full capacity to teach our younger generations the five paramount life skills needed to succeed in the real world: Experiential learning, problem-solving, cross-cultural competence, empathy, and adaptation to change.  But travel does. These skills are learned in-depth through experiences of travel education. If you want to give your child (or yourself) the gift that keeps on giving, get them enrolled in a semester abroad program and start planning your family’s next summer vacation to a foreign land.  

Ravi is available for keynote speaking how education must pivot for cultural competence & equity

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had an overwhelming number of new members join the Ravi Unites Schools network the past quarter.  It has come to the point where the model needs to pivot in order to best serve all members and enable more students worldwide to interact.  So, we are now looking into corporate sponsorships to help us elevate the platform to become self sufficient with a support team that can manage it.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions in the capacity in which we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Be sure to check out Ravi's daily "Minute to Pivot" video series. You can subscribe to it on his YouTube channel by clicking here, or visit any one of his social media pages @RaviUnites.

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received and he followed that up with a school convocation at Gloucester Virginia public schools. Next month he will be giving the opening keynote for the North Carolina Association of School Administrators annual conference,

A large number of school districts have inquired about convocations.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 or 2021 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact.

Pivot

Find Your Pivot Point & Change Becomes Exciting

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Find Your Pivot Point & Change Becomes Exciting

It is now 2020 and the start of the year is a great time to make changes that you or your organization desires to make.  Some will be small and clear-cut (changing to healthy eating patterns, for instance) while larger changes can be daunting and hard to implement.  

Change is frightening and unsettling for most, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you pivot instead, your confidence, willingness, and potential for success increase exponentially.

What does it mean to pivot?

To pivot means to change fundamental aspects of what you’re doing but maintaining a common thread between where you are and where you are going.  In business, it means changing your product, target audience, or style of execution as explained in this article from Entrepreneur.  It highlights five companies who went from relatively unknown and on the brink of failure to household names and massive success by pivoting.

One example is YouTube.  It began as a dating site where singles could upload short videos of themselves and search for potential mates. As the popularity of video-streaming escalated, YouTube’s founders saw profit potential by pivoting into the video-streaming empire it is today. 

pivot by youtube

In education, to pivot may mean making significant shifts in how we educate.  I’ve written about the need for education to go from cultivating specialists to cultivating “jacks-of-all-trades.”  It will take purposeful change to make this happen and “pivots” can be a great way of framing and defining the axis point from which a positive shift can flourish.

How do you know when to pivot?

In an article from Forbes, 14 Famous Business Pivots, contributor Jason Nazar states, “The most critical decision for an entrepreneur is to know when to stay the course vs. change direction.”  For the founders of YouTube, the rising popularity of video-streaming led them to pivot from their dating site roots and position themselves to become the multi-billion-dollar empire eventually acquired by Google.

As a pilot, I compare pivoting to charting a plane’s course to its destination and constantly making adjustments in the air as needed.  When the environment changes, you change course and may need to land at an alternate airport. The same can be said for pivoting. As information, technology, and trends change, and as our wealth of experiences continue to grow, our plan of action must also change which may lead us to an alternate destination. Where would the music industry be had they not (eventually!) embraced digital downloads and online streaming?  Those who did not pivot or waited too long lost market share while new companies that adjusted grew and succeeded.

Recently, I did an interview for John Tesh’s iHeart Media podcast, Intelligence for Your Life.  I typically do mainstream radio interviews so a podcast was a bit of a departure.  However, this more relaxed and extended opportunity to explore ideas in a conversational manner was very liberating for me.  

The theme is, of course, PIVOT.  However, we drilled it down in so many directions that it organically produced something that I haven’t thought much about in the past: the importance of finding your “Pivot Point”—the common thread or primary strength and experiences that one has that can be redirected in the most unpredictable of ways.  My pivot point has always been my passion, experience and skills in music. I implement them in different ways by combining it with a business mindset and social skills. This “pivot point” has united every project and industry in which I have worked even though to others they may appear very disconnected.

In this interview, I discuss the two scenarios when one should pivot: out of necessity and out of opportunity. You can listen to it here

How to find your Pivot Point(s)?

It is important to go further to help you pivot.  The success of finding one’s pivot point can and must be implemented regardless of whether you are an individual, brand, or industry.  

For example: 

  • Individual: Richard Branson has long been one of my role models as we share passion for music, aviation, and philanthropy.  His sense of adventure and willingness to take risks is his pivot point which allows for a broad range of opportunities. Even his brand name, “Virgin,” expresses his quest to always be the first to do something.
  • Brand: Apple’s pivot point is being cool and trendsetting. From a brand recognition perspective, their usage of the lower-case “i”, for example, is also a pivot point that unites products even though they are sometimes independent of other products (though more often they can “talk” to each other).  For example, the iPod, iPhone, iWatch, iTunes, etc.
  • Industry: The music industry pivoted from selling durable goods (records, CD’s, cassette tapes, etc.) to consumable goods (streaming, subscription services).  The pivot point is the distribution of audio and video content (not necessarily the creation of it, as we see so much independent music now being distributed).  It is also not pivoting (or circling) back to physical product such as vinyl records for a more “premium” experience and nostalgic market.

As you brainstorm and plan your 2020 strategy, whether as an individual, brand, or industry, don’t try to change.  Instead, find your pivot point and PIVOT. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts below and together we will find solutions.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had an overwhelming number of new members join the Ravi Unites Schools network the past quarter.  It has come to the point where the model needs to pivot in order to best serve all members and enable more students worldwide to interact.  So, we are now looking into corporate sponsorships to help us elevate the platform to become self sufficient with a support team that can manage it.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions in the capacity in which we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received, with a large number of school districts inquiring about convocations.  Since Ravi is a Virginia resident and he has both a vested interest and smaller travel costs in-state, he is offering steep discounts to Virginia schools.  Of course, he will also do what he can for those outside of the state as well because education matters and we must put students first.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact.

 

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

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Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

While Millennials and Generation Z are proficient in some skills required for career and life, they must broaden their scope in order to adapt to the ever-changing demands in the workplace.

To diversify and be the kind of worker currently in demand, they must pivot from having an I-shaped skill set to becoming T-shaped workers. I-shapers have expertise and knowledge related to a specific area such as engineering while T-shapers have those skills plus are able to think more broadly while collaborating more effectively with others with different expertise.  I think of it as Individual versus Team, and the latter requires the proverbial “soft skills.”

T-Shaped Workers

Ernest Wilson, former dean of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism, published research in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article concluding that the five “soft skill” attributes forming the “T” were adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, intellectual curiosity, and empathy. 

Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

In a more recent Wall Street Journal article, Irving Wladawsky-Berger noted the shift in worker profile that the U.S. Navy wants on their modern ships.  He states that crew size has been reduced significantly and the need for “jacks-of-all-trades” has increased. They are not specialists in a field but at applying information across fields.  In articulating the growth in demand for T-shaped workers, Wladawsky-Berger draws this conclusion regarding limitations of I-shaped workers:

“Hard skills tend to be deep but narrow. Their half-life is getting shorter. The more specific and concrete the skills, the more they are prone to be automated or significantly transformed by advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, making it necessary for workers to be flexible enough to keep adapting to the continuing changes in the workplace."

National School Boards Attributes the Gap to Less Work Experience

Thomas Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO of The National School Boards Association, tells the Comcast National Newsmakers Team in an interview about Bridging the Workplace Skills Gap, “About 40 years ago, almost 6 out of every 10 teenagers had some kind of a job - a part-time job, a summer job. Today, it’s just a little over 1 out of 3.  So fewer and fewer students actually have the experience of working even part-time and then acquiring those soft skills as a result. So, this is something we have to focus on to make sure that they’re well prepared to be successful, to be life ready, as we say, when they graduate high school.”

In my keynotes, I often tell the story of my first job at age 13 earning minimum wage.  It was during my parents’ divorce and my mother wanted me out of our unstable home as much as possible.  She got me a job changing flat tires at the local bicycle store where I had to interact with co-workers, customers, and a boss who were all much older than me. I believe that this experience provided the needed skills to become an entrepreneur before I graduated high school and build a career fueled by my passions.

Our shortage of T-shaped workers among Millennials and Gen Z can partly be attributed to the lack of educational focus on soft skills and the lessening of real-life work experience.  As pointed out in the article above, the decline in high school students holding any kind of job is significant and is now contributing to this gap. Where real life experience has dropped, schools not increasing this focus is creating a chasm.

Currently, traditional high school education focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) but doesn’t teach the “T” skills such as adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, stimulating curiosity and empathy.

Fixing the Gap

So, how do we fix the gap and prepare youth to become T-shaped workers?

As mentioned in my earlier post, “How Cross-Cultural Competence Impacts Workplace Culture and Effectiveness,” groups once considered minorities will together make up at least 52% of the country’s population by 2050.  Our younger generations must be equipped to interact with people of all ethnic backgrounds and cultures in order to thrive in the workplace. To do this, education must teach active listening capabilities, people interaction skills, flexibility, and emotional intelligence.

Students must also develop 360-degree thinking. Data triangulation is a great method of developing this kind of thinking--consulting three or more resources to best grasp a full view of a topic by evaluating different perspectives. This increases the validity of findings and leads to a broader understanding of issues. With our current polarizing viewpoints, developing this soft skill is imperative for the workplace.

This must then fold into civil discourse which is also a learnable skill. As I have noted in the past, here are three ways we can teach students to engage in productive dialogue and express empathy versus hostility.  The capacity for empathy and the ability to express it is a social skill severely lacking in what Chris Lundberg, assistant professor of rhetoric at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, refers to as a “society of incivility.”  If we want our youth to succeed and become the T-shaped workers our workforce requires, we must increase experiential learning to overcome the lack of real-world experience and further focus on soft skills development. That is what is needed to help them to thrive, pivot,  and always be in-demand. 

So let’s engage in some civil discourse.  Please feel free to share your thoughts below and together we will find solutions.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had an overwhelming number of new members join the Ravi Unites Schools network this past quarter.  It has come to the point where the model needs to pivot in order to best serve all members and enable more students worldwide to interact.  So, we are now looking into corporate sponsorships to help us elevate the platform to become self sufficient with a support team that can manage it.  If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions in the capacity in which we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received, with a large number of school districts inquiring about convocations.  Since Ravi is a Virginia resident and he has both a vested interest and smaller travel costs in-state, he is offering steep discounts to Virginia schools.  Of course, he will also do what he can for those outside of the state as well because education matters and we must put students first.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact.

 

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Is Capitalism Failing?

Is Capitalism Failing?

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Chile Protests
Protests in Chile

Government sources continue to report current US economic statistics showing low unemployment, increases in consumer spending, and gains in the stock market.  However, beneath political rhetoric there may be more than meets the eye. As Bloomberg.com reports, “The middle-class Americans who are the main targets of Trump’s economic pitch aren’t sharing much in the gains of U.S. growth.”  

Despite the story of a strong and stable economy, we may have a weakened one. Some evidence can be more easily observed through our South American little brother, Chile, which is currently experiencing a capitalism crisis. As a defender of socially responsible capitalism (which ought not be an oxymoron), this concerns me.

I am currently in Chile and witnessing a world-proclaimed prosperous capitalist economy unravel.  Over the past two weeks, I have run from scores of angry protestors being chased by military tanks shooting water cannons and tear gas (never had such burning in my lungs, eyes, and nose), saw restaurants where I dined one day being burned to rubble the next, and now flee raging fires (suggested to be arson) that are consuming thousands of acres and spawning flames within a few feet of my car.  See it all for yourself on my facebook page: https://facebook.com/raviunites

Hong Kong, France, Lebanon, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Iraq, and Iran are also currently experiencing outbreaks of protest, violence, and destruction. Inequality, healthcare and education access, and intolerance for corruption within government, police, and military are common, and they also all evolve into violence and destruction that originates not from the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum, but rather, “the middle-class.” 

is capitalism failing?
Recent Photo take in Chile during protests

Yet each of these various movements have different political opponents. Hong Kong and Venezuelan protests are fighting socialist/communist governments while Chilean and French protests are turning against capitalist/neoliberal ones. If we dig deeper into history, Hong Kong was controlled for years by some of the most aggressive imperialists ever (the British) while Chile had the first democratically elected socialist president (Allende in 1970, who was overthrown in 1973 by the US backed military coup that put dictator Pinochet into power for 17 years, during which he established a capitalist economy).  Today, some Chileans call for a “Pinochet” style of leadership to return in order to curb violence and secure the economy while the other “half” accuse the current democratic government of increasing disparity and implementing a Pinochet style of military oppression in response to protests. 

To be clear, no socialism or dictatorship exists in Chile today.  In fact, it is extreme capitalism and very much a democratic republic. Like in France, “the people” are standing up against capitalism. In reality, the post-Pinochet strengthening of Chile’s economy left many people behind which is why the US must take note even though our media does little to cover the “fall of capitalism” in favor of the more palatable “fall of communism” in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Hong Kong. 

So, let’s examine three underreported factors that expose our weakening economy.

Underemployment: Double the Rate of Unemployment

While quick to report the U.S. economy’s low unemployment rate of 3.7% (as of June), the media generally overlooks the rate of under-employment which is 7.2%—double the June 2019 unemployment rate of 3.7%. 

According to brookings.edu, “The unemployment rate is in some ways a narrow measure of the labor market that misses important aspects of labor market distress. A broader indicator of labor market weakness called the underemployment rate—and in Bureau of Labor Statistics jargon referred to as the U-6 unemployment rate—takes into account some of this additional distress. Examining both unemployment and underemployment is useful for analyzing different aspects of the labor market.”

While a relatively small percentage of people are out of work, there is still considerable underutilized labor and many for whom the labor market is not providing adequate opportunities. This also means fewer are tapping into social programs designed to help those in need, which is positive except that under-employing people creates a proverbial doughnut hole where working families are still not able to sustain themselves yet no longer qualify for help.  When fewer get social help but experience social mobility, they become victims of credit and predatory lending. How can this equal a healthy economy? Would there even be a middle class if it were not for credit cards?

Increasing Credit Card Debt

The middle class exists largely due to credit which eventually causes a credit crisis in the economy. We saw it in 2008 with subprime mortgages.  We see it today in Chile with low wages and high costs of goods including education and healthcare accessed through predatory lending—two issues facing many US citizens.

Cnbc.com reported that outstanding consumer debt exceeded $4 trillion for the first time, according to the Federal Reserve.  The average American has a credit card balance of $4,293. At an average of 17.41%, interest rates have never been higher. 

Massive Educational Debt

If those are not enough, the middle class also carries massive student debt.  The average per adult now exceeds $37,000 with a loan-repayment average timeline of 19.7 years, according to nitrocollege.com.  

Cnbc.com reports, “Outstanding student loan debt has tripled in the last decade and is now $1.5 trillion. A college education is now the second-largest expense an individual is likely to make in a lifetime-right after purchasing a home.”

With 7.2% of U.S. citizens underemployed and with credit card and student loan debt at an all-time high, our economy cannot be as politicians would have you believe. 

In Conclusion

There is a lot more to our economy than headlines tell us. Poverty alleviation as a key objective of an economic system is misleading because one also must make sure that when moving people into a middle-class, it cannot be one that ultimately collapses in debt.  Is it really a middle-class if it lacks financial literacy, independence, and sustainability? Is it ethical to move people out of social assistance programs only to expose them to predatory lenders that saddle them with debt? 

I believe that whether capitalism, socialism, or something else prevails, we now live in a sharing economy that relies less on vertical economies (tickle up or trickle down) and more on lateral networks.  Capital itself has transitioned from financial to social. 

Moreover, I see the greatest enemy of every society being polarization.  Lack of civil discourse is our greatest obstacle yet is also the most necessary opportunity to create today.   If we can achieve that, everything else will begin to fall into place. We should debate economic theories, cultural differences, environmental concerns, and more, however, until we bring most people back toward the middle, is there any system that can be implemented successfully? 

For more regarding this discussion, check out my most recent interview with Jim Blasingame on the Small Business Advocate, at smallbusinessadvocate.com

 

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had planned to set up multiple interactions during Ravi’s current stay in Chile, however, due to the social unrest and violence, schools have been closed for multiple days causing unpredictable schedules and a high work load to catch up before summer vacation (which begins next week in the southern hemisphere). We hope to schedule more interactions globally soon, but possibly not before 2020. Nevertheless, please keep an eye on your inbox as we will contact you as soon as an opportunity arises.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi and Britannica have extended their partnership into 2020.  This means we can partially subsidize the cost of a keynote to qualifying educational events which will amount to a generous 40% savings for you.  To secure your partially subsidized keynote, please reply to this email with your planned date and location so we can let you know the details and hold the date for you.  Don’t delay, as the funds are limited and allocated on a first come-first serve basis.

Ravi has been in Chile facing the extreme social unrest head on (as highlighted in this month’s blog post). He will fly straight from there to give the keynote in December for VASCD (Virginia ASCD) in historic Williamsburg VA, and will speak on Cultural Competence as a Pathway to Equity in Education.

 

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Polarization in the USA and the Need to Teach Data Triangulation

Polarization in the USA and the Need to Teach Data Triangulation

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Polarization has become serious in the U.S. and has significant negative consequences that impact society. From the cultural divide between Republicans and Democrats to positions on immigration, racial equity, same-sex marriage and more, deep lines have been drawn. Arguably, even our current rifts on impeachment and middle east issues are based more on partisanship than fact.  This divide places “the other side” as a threat and collaborative communication is nearly non-existent. Even our news sources have become entrenched in positional reporting, making it difficult for many to have an objective and non-partisan viewpoint.  

One of the most beautiful realizations I had about overcoming extreme differences was when I traveled from Beirut to Baalbek in Lebanon.  My Christian driver and I cautiously traversed Hezbollah territory only to be stopped and have a soldier board our car. We drove for 20 minutes with my driver and the soldier having an animated conversation in Arabic--I was sure they were making a deal and I was being sold out to a terrorist.  At the next checkpoint, the soldier got out and my driver and I continued on to Baalbek. Seeing my sense of relief, he turned to me and calmly said, “Don’t worry; he is Muslim and I am Christian but first we are both Lebanese.” 

Surely if they can prioritize nationalism, Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to first be Americans.  If we are to overcome polarization, significant shifts need to occur and educators have a powerful opportunity to facilitate this by teaching students to triangulate data before succumbing to perceptions.

What is Data Triangulation?

Triangulation of data involves consulting three or more sources on a topic. This increases the validity of research and leads to better understanding through the study of different opinions on the same topic. The benefits include establishing broader context on an issue as well as the need to synthesize and evaluate differences. Conclusions from one source may reinforce or conflict with others. The output from a given data collection process can also confirm or disprove a hypothesis generated by another theory. 

In the cockpit of an airplane, we look at three or more instruments before concluding the status of the flight. The idea is to minimize bias and increase objective understanding that looks at an issue from multiple angles. If teachers implement this model and help students use this in all subjects, this will not only help students see issues more objectively in the classroom, but equip them to adopt this practice throughout life. This can, in turn, provide solutions to issues that are paralyzed due to polarization and preempt this polarization in the future. However, access to data is the key.

Network Neutrality

Without network neutrality, our partisan news sources can skew information in one direction. With it, all people regardless of socioeconomic status can get data from different sources and compare because Internet service providers would be required to allow users to create and access content equitably and free of charge.  Teachers then would have a powerful opportunity that will impact decision-making for years to come by helping students to engage with material from all sides of a matter. This eliminates bias that brings about polarization.

Moreover, teaching students to champion network neutrality and the facilitation of data triangulation will mold them into citizens that do not lean on one-sided political opinions or ideologies. In an economy that now depends on the sharing of knowledge, critical thinking is essential. Network neutrality will benefit students in the long run, making them more objective and less prone to a one-sided perspective on issues.

Civil Discourse

Holding classroom debates as part of data triangulation can also be valuable as it helps people see from another’s perspective. Debates can even be one of the data collection methods used in triangulation. Getting the opinions of others on specific political issues that they have researched can be mind-expanding and can help broaden attitudes when facilitated with care, and it allows for the sharing of diverse views with an intent to listen and understand the other party. This is civil discourse. 

Data Triangulation and Vaping

Consider the current national issues surrounding vaping.  This provides teachers a relevant front-burner issue where data triangulation could be used in the classroom, enabling students to dive into the debate, grow in their data triangulation skills, and come up with relevant recommendations that are non-partisan and well-researched.  It will also organically draw teens to the dangers and considerations of vaping without imposing authority and risking rejection.

Flip the Classroom

By flipping the classroom and shifting teachers from presenters to facilitators, we can empower students to look at all sides of any issue while equipping them with a lifelong skill that can benefit society for decades to come.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We are preparing for a number of new interactions between Chile, India, and the US.  Please keep an eye on your email as we will be sending out possible dates soon. We are also working on getting new international schools in the network from Portugal, France, and beyond.

Other News and Announcements

Last month was a busy one for me in Education.  I gave the keynote for Indiana School Boards Association & Indiana Public School Administrators Association, New Hampshire School Administrators Association, Virginia Association of School Superintendents Region VIII, and spoke to students at Ben Davis University High School in Indiana. This week I head to Milwaukee to address the Milwaukee Area Technical College as well as local high school. Thank you to Britannica who helped make each of these possible through our ongoing partnership.

"Songwriting Safari" in Chile

Do not miss this opportunity!  A “Songwriting Safari” in Chile
February 21-March 1, 2020.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with songwriters from multiple cultures and backgrounds under the guidance of Ravi Hutheesing, former member of three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hanson.  You will write at least three songs with hands-on instruction from Ravi and his award-winning songwriting teaching method, 1-2-3 Songwriting, as well as learn from carefully selected well-known guest instructors.  By participating in this unique ten-day workshop, you will create timeless songs, build global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and discover how you can use your talents to change the world.

Learn more here: Songwriting Safari in Chile 2020

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Millennials in the Workplace: Why and How Your Company Needs to Pivot

Millennials in the Workplace: Why and How Your Company Needs to Pivot

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Millennials in the Workplace Why and How your Company Needs to Pivot

Millennials have arrived and are changing the workplace forever.  They have different desires and expectations than past generations and therefore companies must pivot, shifting from maintaining methods that worked for baby boomers to those that resonate with millennials. With 35% of the labor force now being made up of millennials, this is a pressing issue for businesses as baby-boomers retire.

Why Your Company Needs to Pivot to Millennials Working Habits

Millennials are Hard to Recruit and Retain

Millennial turnover already costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually. They are the most educated generation in history and expected to form 75% of the workforce by 2030. The impact of high employee turnover is significant for all companies because it not only results in higher recruiting costs, but also a decline in productivity, overall revenue, employee morale, and cohesive company culture. Millennials have a reputation for job-hopping as they become bored or see new opportunities. This high turnover ratio can have a huge impact on a company's bottom line so the need to retain and enable millennials to thrive is critical.

Let’s look deeper at reasons why millennials are so detached from organizations.

  • It Takes Longer for Millennials to Choose a Career

The director of the lab on aging at Harvard Medical School says the first person to live until 150 has already been born.  This means that it will simply take millennials longer to find what they want to do for 100 years of their working lives.  They are having a hard time finding jobs that they feel passionate about as they explore various roles and try different career paths and will only settle short-term for a career if it puts food on their table.  They want more, both in terms of pay and meaning. If they come across a better opportunity, they are quick to transition. This long-term view of life and bias for “purpose” means that they are taking longer to find a career they want.

  • Millennials have Less Real-Work Experience

Millennials have also spent a lot of time building their academic records. They were told that a good academic record equated career opportunities.  Moreover, they enjoyed college life, leaving them less inclined to move quickly into the workforce. While education can be good, millennials often lack a helpful work history and when they graduate, it becomes hard for them to land a job due to this lack of experience. Millennials grew up with so many choices presented to them that many lack the ability to create opportunities when none are apparent.  Therefore, many still search for their passion and interests and this has resulted in dissatisfaction at the workplace and hence, higher attrition.

I’ve said before that experiential learning prepares students for the real world. Exposure to real-life work experience sharpens students’ competencies, helps them change their mind-set about the job market, and gives them qualified time to identify their passions. Lack of experiential learning denies students the time to adapt to the real world, taking longer for them to choose their career paths after graduating

  • They are the Most Entrepreneurial and Least Loyal to Organizations

The millennial generation is the most entrepreneurial generation we have ever seen. They are showing themselves to be the most purpose-driven and as such, the most detached from major institutions such as politics, religion, and marriage. Their commitment and loyalty to organizations is equally minimal. The reason behind their entrepreneurial mind-set is that they have lost faith in employment as well as that desire for flexibility. The unemployment rate for millennials stands above the overall rate at 12.8%. Unemployment and uncertainty in the job market have motivated them to start their own projects and chart their own career paths. The broken promises in employment like getting promotions after investing in higher education make them less committed to employers.

  • Millennials Value Integration Versus Work-Life Balance

The traditional work-life balance environment designed by baby boomers will not suit millennial lifestyle and goals. They want work-life integration.  The ability to do important work while in flip flops and checking social media! Millennials will be attracted to your organization if allowed to work when their productivity peaks. They value autonomy and options and look for flexible work hours as well as the ability to work remotely.

How Your Company Must Pivot to Consider Millennials

As illustrated, millennials have different career expectations. To successfully recruit and retain millennials in your organization, here are key considerations and recommendations.

  • Take a Work-Life Integration Approach

Work-life integration beyond just creating a balance is critical to millennials. Integrate technology to make it easy for them to work remotely. As working hours become extended, you need to provide flexible schedules which allow millennials to work at their rhythm.  Offering substantial paid time off and support for family events such as births and childcare is also greatly valued.

  • Provide Regular Feedback and Encouragement

Millennials are motivated by making a difference and innovation. To motivate millennial employees, provide regular feedback and encouragement. They need to feel connected to their team and the fellow workers. Millennial workers are more content where their efforts are recognized--this generation grew up receiving trophies for 5th place! They are more concerned about making a difference than making a profit, so how can your company showcase your social values? 

  • Create Pathways for Millennials to Move within the Organization

As noted, it takes millennials some significant time before they settle for a career.  They want to accumulate experiences and refrain from settling down. Millennials prefer to stay in companies where there is progressive growth, so how can your company allow pathways for millennials to try different roles and move internally within the organization rather than leaving the organization?

  • Allow Millennials to Be Innovative

Another key for companies today is to include millennials early on in the transformation of systems, processes, and activities. To attract them, encourage internal innovation to allow them to work and think differently. Millennials prefer flexibility to specific schedules, the opportunity to innovate and have progressive growth, and having a sense of ownership of the results. 

By taking the above into consideration and shifting your HR process and company culture, your company can become an attractive place that will recruit,  motivate, and retain millennial employees.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had four amazing interactions since the last newsletter, making this the busiest month ever for Ravi Unites Schools.  At the end of August I hosted one live from Chile where students of the MacKay School in Vina Del Mar interacted with peers in Santa Ana California USA.  Then later that week, I hosted virtually (still from Chile) and interaction between Tamil Nadu India and Aurora Ohio USA. Then I went to India and alongside student in Tamil Nadu, I hosted an interaction with their peers from Stevens Point Wisconsin USA.  Finally, alongside students in Mumbai, I hosted an interaction with their peers in Hilton Head South Carolina USA. These were all amazing and you can see some of the latest videos at RaviUnites.com/schools.

Other News and Announcements

India: I am returning today from a jam-packed trip to India.  It began with a very special week at Shanti Bhavan (a boarding school for the poorest of the poor with whom I have partnered for a decade). In addition to giving students workshops on music, public speaking, and social responsibility, the school unveiled the new name of the kindergarten residence building in a ceremony honoring my late grandmother. She will be watching over these amazing kids now, smiling upon them and encouraging them to achieve their dreams and discover all that life has to offer. Hope you can one day visit Krishna Nehru Hutheesing House at Shanti Bhavan in Tamil Nadu, India.

Also while in India, I hosted two Ravi Unites Schools interactions (see Ravi Unites Schools update below) and gave a keynote for the students and faculty of the Singapore International School in Mumbai.  It is a beautiful school with a remarkable staff and very bright students. Thank you to New Millennium Education Partners for bringing me to SIS.

New Management:  I am so excited to announce that Dynamic Communication Management Partners is now managing my speaking career.  Denise and Chris are amazing and so experienced, giving me the opportunity to deliver a higher level of service and content to my keynote clients.

"Songwriting Safari" in Chile

Do not miss this opportunity!  A “Songwriting Safari” in Chile
February 21-March 1, 2020.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with songwriters from multiple cultures and backgrounds under the guidance of Ravi Hutheesing, former member of three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hanson.  You will write at least three songs with hands-on instruction from Ravi and his award-winning songwriting teaching method, 1-2-3 Songwriting, as well as learn from carefully selected well-known guest instructors.  By participating in this unique ten-day workshop, you will create timeless songs, build global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and discover how you can use your talents to change the world.

Learn more here: Songwriting Safari in Chile 2020

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.