Dear Parker and Audrey,
I have been meaning to write to you about your futures, but the pressure has not really mounted, being that neither of you can read just yet. However, the ideas and thoughts I have about your futures are beginning to overwhelm me at this point, and I felt that I should at least commence something in the way of a letter to your future selves.
On the way to school today, you and I were talking, Parker, and you asked where the yellow school bus in front of us was going. My answer, without thinking, was of course, “to school.” But you were quicker than that and immediately asked “why?” My answer was to tell you that it was taking the kids to school so they could learn.
As soon as I said it, something in my head clicked. That was the wrong answer, or at least the wrong syntax. The way I said it to you implied that school is exclusively the place where you go to learn, and that could not be further from the truth. This is true today, and will be increasingly more so as you and your sister get older.
Your future contains aspects that no future has ever contained before, the most key being something we call ubiquitous access. What that means is that you will be able to learn, gain access to, and process information from any location you are in: a school, a city sidewalk, running through the woods with your father. That changes things more than you can imagine. For your mother and me, when we wanted information, or wanted to learn, we had to physically move ourselves to where that information was. In most cases, it was school, and in special cases a library, museum, or artistic event. Your future will give you the opportunity to seize an idea at any moment and go with it, unhindered by physical constraints or the constraints of individuals who might want that information for themselves.
The biggest shift for you in relation to my comment about the children going to school to learn: you will have more teachers than your mother and I did combined. Your teachers will be accessible to you at any time and will come in the form of professionals in the field of study you are interested in, databases and visualizations that people create for you, and yes actual teachers in your school who are connecting to teachers of their own to continue to learn and explore. Your learning cycle will not stop arbitrarily at age 18 or 22, but will be continuous throughout your life and will be filled with several careers combined into one. Where your mother and I were taught to be concerned with facts and linear thinking, you will be taught to find patterns, see bigger pictures, and connect ideas that bear no resemblance to one another on the surface.
I know that it was just a question that you asked, Parker, and in twenty years you will not remember it at all, but to me it signified something larger. Your future is not just my responsibility as a parent, it is also my responsibility as someone in the position to institute real change in the way we understand and execute the processes of learning and teaching.
My real hope for you is that you discover what I have recently discovered about working: it has to be grounded in the same ideas you are using now at your ages. Discovery. Mistake. Attempt. Attempt. Attempt. Failure. BooBoo and ouch. Play. Build. Create. Mix. Smear. Mess.
I love you both.