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Youth Transforming Education - Contributing to Well-being for All

Let's begin by imagining how the youth unemployment challenge could contribute to diverse solutions such as the global teacher shortage, transforming education, and providing youth employment. The UN has estimated that we need more than 5 million teachers ( We could work with youth to contribute to education solutions that foster sustainable entrepreneurship, product-oriented education (see Yong Zhao's work) and transform teacher training (similar to the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India) - creating innovations around who teaches whom, how education is delivered, and how we can foster well-being for all.

Photo of Catherine O'Brien
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Youth unemployment underscores the need to transform education. Additionally, we have significant sustainability  challenges, calls for greater creativity and innovation, entrepreneurship education and various recommendations for 21st century competencies. At the same time, we have a massive global teacher shortage. All of these challenges point to a need to repurpose education. My work on sustainable happiness (happiness that contributes to individual, community, and/or global well-being without exploiting other people, the environment or future generations) suggests that one of our aims for education should be happiness and well-being for all.

Youth unemployment needs to be viewed through the lens of sustainability so that we don't simply increase the kind of entrepreneuship capacity or youth employment that accelerates the depletion of resources or increases harm to people and the planet. Likewise, calls for greater creativity and innovation are often couched in language about increasing competitive advantage and are mired in what I've come to view as national-silo thinking - as if each country's education system needs to enable its students to make the nation more competitive. What if we began to ask questions about what the learning needs are for our global community? What is it that we all need to learn so that we all thrive and flourish? How might education evolve if we are striving for well-being for all, forever? How might we collaborate to resolve local and global challenges? How could the extensive teacher shortage present an opportunity for us to re-imagine education? How could youth be engaged to contribute to meeting our learning needs?

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CJE O'Brien.pdf

This paper discusses sustainable happiness and implications for education.


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Photo of Tom Christensen

The global view is essential, and its too early for most thinkers to grasp this. The trend appears to be in your direction though. In any case, when we have a global system for delivering resources, food, education, health care, where it is needed, a vision as wide as yours will have preceeded it. Onward...with patience.

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