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Another in an occasional series of guest posts, we are pleased to feature: Charlie Fitzpatrick, Schools Program Manager, ESRI.

Dawn of a new school year brings to most a mix of hope and dread. Opportunity, challenge, delight, and work will appear and attempt to consume more than the mathematically possible time, energy, and attention. Such is life: choices must be made, and will be, even by avoiding them.

So it is too with technology: constant choice. This summer, professionals of various stripes, types, and ages confided with me (with varying levels of angst) that they wish technological evolution would just halt for several years, as they don’t want to allocate resources (money, space, attention, and especially time) to adaptation. Some actively (even proudly) choose to allocate increased resources to block it (decades after Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock”).SETDAblogpic

For sure, simply “being new” is not sufficient to merit adoption, just as “being historic” is not sufficient to deserve replacement. But “lifelong learning” and “adaptation” are not singular events to be checked off as “done.” Like it or not, we are all global citizens, living with climate change, environmental degradation, financial turmoil, political unrest, social upheaval, technoshift, and the small to tall waves each of these cause (and their intersections magnify).

Young people deserve to see models of constant active learning. They are by nature integrators and disrupters, unbound by “it worked OK last year.” They will question, reach, and explore. Truth be told, adults may be the “slow learners” here, most needing models of untainted vision, insatiable curiosity, purposeful exploration, and thoughtful creativity. Following such episodes with critical discussion of process and results, evidence and interpretation, and holistic consideration will foster the problem solving skills we so desperately need, as a community, country, and planet.

As the next school year draws nigh, how about a new year’s resolution (now, not January) to join youth in considering the novel, exploring the unfamiliar? In addition to measuring our own plans and accomplishments, we might need to add personal lifelong learning grades for our own reaching, integrating, discovering, sharing, fostering. We might even need help from others to assess our success here. We have choices to make constantly, and we make them even by ignoring them.

Charlie Fitzpatrick has been Schools Program Manager for Esri (world leader in geographic information system software) since 1992, and was a social studies teacher (gr.7-12) 1977-1992. His current focus is on Esri’s participation in President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, providing online mapping resources for free to any US K12 school (

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