Have you ever driven through an old neighborhood that’s changed so dramatically you hardly recognize the place? There are buildings and homes where once stood cornfields. Clusters of gaudy new signs replace a sparse population of old ones. The tree-lined streets are crowded with cars and people. It can be disorienting.
Now try navigating such a place with a 30-year-old map. It won’t work.
That’s what Tim Elmore, founder and president of leadership training nonprofit Growing Leaders, believes. In his book Marching Off the Map: Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World, he says when raising and educating children in today’s environment we must become pioneers. We must march off our old maps onto new ones.
“As you stand in front of your classroom or your own children,” Elmore said, “you are, in a sense, Galileo. You are Magellan. You are Christopher Columbus. You are Lewis and Clark. You are Neil Armstrong. Ready or not, they need you to play this role.”
Today’s youth are part of a population that has grown up post-9/11: Terrorism is part of the landscape. A sour economy is all they remember. Racial unrest is commonplace. Uncertainty defines our culture. And technology is everywhere.
“Since they are exposed to so much adult information, so early in their lives, they can prematurely lose (1) their sense of innocence, (2) their sense of wonder and (3) their sense of trust,” Elmore said. This explains some of the struggles they suffer. “In any given year, about one in five will experience an anxiety attack. Why? Their world is overwhelming, cluttered with information coming at them at the rate of a thousand messages a day.”
The solution? Elmore believes “we must cultivate one significant skill set in ourselves: We must be able to either adapt to the new world that’s emerging, or we must explain why a timeless virtue or value is still relevant in our 21st century world.”
Marching Off the Map is invaluable to educators, youth leaders and parents for two reasons: It defines today’s youth in a way that also explains the why (essential for anyone who seeks to reach a place of understanding and empathy from which to teach and influence); and provides practical ways to adapt to this new landscape without compromising to the culture.
We are all heading into unchartered territory. It behooves us to learn what it takes to raise a generation that can thrive in this new world. You can purchase Marching Off the Map by Tim Elmore on Amazon.