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6 Questions We Must Answer in 2017

In 2017, many of our challenges will be obvious. Problems like hunger, poverty, slavery and war will require our best effort and our brightest students. The problem for those of us who lead the next generation, however, is that there are other, less obvious, problems too.

As this year comes to a close, I think a lot about what the next year will hold. Why? Because many moments in history were defined by how prepared leaders were to handle their day’s toughest questions. This next year will certainly have its share of challenges. Here are six questions I think we will have to answer as leaders of the next generation in 2017.

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1. How can we meet their need for social capital?

This generation knows a lot of people online, but many of them don’t have the genuine social capital needed to be successful when they are on their own. Deep trust between people that genuinely influences others occurs best through face-to-face relationships and earned credibility through character. Many have not learned to cultivate relationships off-line. I wonder how we can help them bridge this gap.

2. How can we balance their need to find expression yet focus them on positive solutions?

Today’s kids need outlets for self-expression. It’s a part of who they are. The need increases as youth connect with peers more than mentors. The problem is that many methods of self-expression today are negative and offer no solutions. I wonder how we will help them channel their expression toward real solutions.

3. When are they most ready to learn from adults and grow?

Today’s student is maturing fast and slow at the same time. It can be hard to know when it’s the right time for a conversation. Often students are cognitively advanced but emotionally behind. I wonder how we will navigate timing for tough conversations with our students this year? Will we recognize teachable moments with them?

4. How can we instill timeless values in a pluralistic world?

I value the many ideas and perspectives that we have in our world. To today’s student, however, these varying perspectives can create confusion when they are trying to make decisions for themselves. I wonder how we can help them respect all points of view, while still guiding them to make the right decisions. How can we help them recognize the complexities but embrace simplicity in their ideals and lifestyle?

5. What are the biggest issues to be resolved worldwide as they enter adulthood?

There are many problems in the world today. Our students need us to help point them towards the problems they can help to solve in the future. Our focus groups reminded us kids feel “bogged down” by the issues our world faces. Yet, they will inherit them. I wonder which problems we will point them towards, and how we will help them prepare to address these problems.

6. Where can we steer them for guidance and mentoring?

Today’s student knows where to go for information, but they don’t often know where to go for maturation. They have voices coming at them constantly. They will receive guidance from one source or another. As adults, we must figure out how to help them see the need for personal growth, and then point them in the right direction to get it. I wonder how we will know which people to point them toward when they might think they already know all the answers?

Have you started trying to answer some of these questions? Share some of the answers you’ve uncovered in the comments below. Let’s all help one another as we step into a new year full of important questions we must answer.

Ready or not…2017 is right around the corner.


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3 Comments

  1. Jay DuSold on December 28, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Great article! Parents can actually be the social architect for their kids . . . but it takes a lot of work. It means we have to get much more active in their lives and not leave them to their own devices on their devices!

  2. Cheryl Nelson on December 31, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Thsee are some of the questions I have been asking myself. I think as we seek to engage our students in continuous dialogue, and have open discussions it will provide a foundation for connecting.
    Much to accomplish as we seek to embrace the challenges of 2017.

    • Tim Elmore on January 11, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      I completely agree and look forward to all that we can accomplish in 2017. We are on this journey together.

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6 Questions We Must Answer in 2017