Great Book Response : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

The International community of the 21st century will be a world interconnected and reliant on world markets and transactions. Business, economics, politics, and society are changing at the speed of light. Our world is rapidly evolving and leaders need to find innovative ideas to survive during this technological transformation into the 21st century. Jennifer James has examined these difficult concepts of change in her new book entitled "Thinking In the Future Tense --A Workout For The Mind." Ms. James examines the rapid pace our world is changing and offers advice for adapting to the current technological metamorphous our society is currently undergoing. Consequently, Jennifer James is offering her book as a tool to use for change and redirection in an increasingly competitive world. According to Ms. James, understanding our past is relevant to understanding our future. In Fact, Ms. James begins by asking, "what does it mean to think in the future tense." She will analyze this question in conjunction with a trip to Nepal and a gravestone that belongs to the deceased Jacob Shamier. Jacob died during the 18th century and he had ensricbed on his tomb: Tell Me The News My father was an Armennian trader, born in Rome. My mother was born of Greek and Persian parents. I was born in Istanbul. Stand on my grave and tell me the news of the World.

Jacob Shamier was a trader that traveled out into the world at the age of sixteen. He died in 1774 after traveling to many foreign places and learning countless new things. This story is so profound because Mr. Shamier traveled on the cutting edge of the 18th century. He helped create the future rather than hide from inevitable change. Jennifer James states that Jacob's "profound love of life and his passion for the future were apparently undiluted and for this reason I told him we had walked on the moon...that we could talk to China by sending our voices through space...we could perform organ transplants, and that many people lived past the age of one hundred" (15). This analogy is so symbolic because this man was an explorer that embraced the future with no fear. Jacob lived during the 18th century but he was able to think in the future tense. Thinking in the Future tense includes visionaries. Unlike Jacob Shamier, many people view the changing world today with fear and dread rather than excitement and anticipation. For many people, the world is changing too fast and the future is unpredictable. In order to contribute to the future we must increase our intelligence and learn to think in alternative ways. Ms. James theorizes that society must grasp change with a new set of eyes, "The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes." In essence, we can only experience new ideas if we accept the changes and differences placed before us. Ideally, we must recognize what the future will become. Ms. James provides the analogy of Japan's economic success during the 1980's, "They (the Japanese) did not create; they recognized the appearance of a pattern in the development of products such as quartz watches, active matrix flat screens, and memory chips. Their understanding of that pattern and its implications soon enabled them to dominate particular markets, often by buying patents and research expertise elsewhere. You don't have to be an inventor to be successful, but you do have to notice the inventions of others" (51). Recognizing innovation is a necessary tool to forecasting change. According to Ms. James we must realize that intelligence can not be measured by SAT, ACT, and GRE scores. Instead, we must learn to access "HOW" smart people are. Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard, thought of intelligence as the ability to solve problems or create products. This analysis means that we should access an individual's verbal, logical, visual, musical, personal, and interpersonal intelligence. Accessing how a person is intelligent allows he/she to maximize their personal skill. In fact, Ms. James pushes this point further by explaining the fundamental skill and intelligence related to communication skills and in our future society this talent will be crucial.We must learn how to master new forms of intelligence and break the binding chains of IQ scores. Our world is changing to fast and these old tests will only hamper change. In order to prosper in the future, which is rapidly becoming a reality we must understand our past. Ms. James explains the power of nostalgia and how our brains tend "not to remember the stress and anxiety of earlier times and events. Our memories are usually positive and selective" and "If we recognize that nostalgia and anxiety walk hand in hand, then we are able to understand how human behavior can go awry in times of rapid change" (129). Human nature has a tendency to look at the past with disillusioned eyes, i.e., life was much better during the 1950s because there was a stronger emphasis on family values. Keep in mind many African Americans did not have a political voice, women lived in oppression, and we lived in fear of the "red scare." Jennifer James reminds the reader that what "appears" wonderful in the past is an illusion we create. This is important information because we must face the future with an open mind and cast aside the "perfect" illusions of the past. If individuals can successfully do this the future will hopefully become an adventure filled with excitement rather than anxiety. If society can successfully move towards the future by understanding our past, mastering new forms of intelligence criteria, and recognizing how the future will contribute to positive change, we will all profit. The key to "thinking in the future tense" is to remain flexible, open to suggestions, and recognize change. If we can successfully adopt these characteristics we will resemble Jacob Shamier's insatiable drive to find the future during the late 18th century. The question is how will we face the future, like Jacob Shamier or hidden in a sea of nostalgic illusions?

-- Anonymous, March 17, 1999

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