Learn or Die: 21st Century Community Learning

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ISBN: 9781457526770
376 pages

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ISBN: 9781457533563
376 pages

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ISBN: 9781457533587
376 pages

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2016 POSTLOGUE by Dr. Nelson Noggle

The phrase Learn or Die is only provocative when you wonder if you are dying. It presupposes that learning will offset death -- death of what?

In America, the United States to be exact, individuals die of all sorts of things – old age problems, diseases, accidents, murders and suicides. Becoming educated does not prevent death, but it does tend to prolong life a little longer. But this book, which is really a dialogue among scholars, is not pointing to preventing the death of individuals, for there is far too much evidence this is going to occur for each of us. It instead is focusing on an ideal – that “it is ideal” when people come together to maintain something they have in common and do not want to lose.

In America, we all have one thing in common – we have a system that allows us to look out for one another. We have a special kind of freedom born of a stubborn desire to be free as a complete nation of people. This is a freedom born of both independence and interdependence – where as we learn and work and live to the best of our individual and collective abilities. It presupposes that this system is dynamic and always open to inspection and revision by those living under its function. Learning how to keep such a system alive demands that each of us need to bring something to that venture – learning how to look out for one another both as individuals and as a nation.

In America, we know that we have learned certain things and wished we had learned more. The ebb and flow of our social, economic and political realities has changed often and dramatically over our short span of existence. The Constitution of the United States of America, and its accompanying Bill of Rights, have been particularly useful for stating and changing how we live, work and learn together. It has not been easy, nor has it ever come close to perfecting itself – for to lend prideful posture to it, as a finished product, would surely bring a finish to our nation – hence, the challenge to Learn or Die.

This collection of views from scholars and professionals, who care about this country and where it is headed, is really a continuation of a dialogue that is documented over the years. It is an invite to continue that dialogue into the future. But, there is an urgency needed in this dialogue, because we have so many differences of opinion that can be shared almost by the speed of light thus causing so much chaos that we are dying as a nation. We can no longer occupy a seat at the table of thinkers and planners without the urgent call for something other than debate and competition. There is a need for us to grow in our ability to advance our system in terms of the complex, fast-growing society we are becoming. We need to breakdown walls that separate us and build linkages that bring us together – learning together so that our system builds both from the inside out and the outside in.

In this world, the political, social, cultural, economic and philosophical differences make us feel overwhelmed – well, that is a sure sign of pending death. It is time for us to grow and learn together so that “we” continue to live – so that the collective “we”, call it humanity or mankind, does not die. For as long as we selfishly learn how to use resources against one another, “we” shall surely die. And, with advancing technology and growing selfishness, “we” are Racing to Extinction. We must learn anew! Thank you for looking in on our dialogue – please join in as soon as you can.


About John Andrew Harrold, George Stuckey & America's 21st century National Road Scholars

John Andrew Harrold is the founder and chief administrative officer of 21st Century Learning Communities, LLC (21stCLC, LLC). The purpose of 21st CLC, LLC is assisting communities define and access the knowledge of most worth for the attainment of high quality community life and enduring economic well-being. Harrold believes that learning is a lifelong endeavor and so he views all communities as classrooms without walls. He has joined forces with editor, George Stuckey and America's 21st century National Road Scholars to write Learn or Die: 21st Century Community Learning. Read on to learn more about the contributors to Learn or Die.



The Chinese have wisely pointed out that death has many faces. Not all death is the lurid stuff which is printed in the local newspaper or appears on the 11:00 newscast. Take for example the hard working assembler at an automobile factory who has been laid off. He has just joined 42,000,000 other Americans and he knows he is unlikely to be called back to work. In addition, after he makes the rounds of other firms which might make use of his skills and his work ethic, he begins to suspect that the rules have changed. Simple, hard work is likely to be compensated by minimum wage. The economic structure of the entire world has changed. Now the jobs which pay well are jobs which require thinking. This means that life-long learning is absolutely essential for economic success: Informal learning as well as formal learning. The citizen in our example is no longer wanted. He is a cipher, a zero. The American Dream is no longer his. In a consumer conditioned America the work we do defines us for those we meet. Indeed, we tend to identify ourselves in terms of the contributions we might make. In other words "how much money do we make?"    


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