My brain is full. That’s a good thing though. I think.
At the conference today, the two keynote speakers really stressed the fact that we are preparing our students for a future that we can’t even imagine using technology, strategies, and pedagogy that really hasn’t evolved much since the 19th century.
Public education as we know it today grew to develop a population of literate workers for the industrial revolution. But what did that actually mean?
It meant that workers needed to be able to read print (maybe), do simple arithmetic, and follow instructions. So we told students to sit in rows, be quiet, do the same thing as everyone else, and not ask too many questions.
Well, jobs that require workers who can do that are rapidly declining.
And yet, the majority of classrooms still bear a striking resemblance to those 19th century classrooms.
And I can’t TELL you how tired I am of the response, “Well that’s what they’re going to get in university so we might as well prepare them for it.”
First of all, if we acknowledge that something qualifies as “bad teaching” then doing more “bad teaching” to prepare them for “bad teaching” seems ludicrous to me!
Secondly, we as teachers have this mindset that we need to prepare the majority of our students for university (because we did, and probably most of our friends did), when the fact is that very few of them are GOING to university–and not because they’re not smart enough, but because many of them realize that having a degree behind their name isn’t a guarantee of anything anymore.
I strongly believe that the world they encounter within school at least needs to acknowledge the richness of the world that exists for these students outside of school. They’re doing all kinds of learning without us. Think of the potential for learning that could happen if we saw ourselves as facilitators. We don’t need to teach the kids how to use the technology, but we need to give them opportunities to use it to demonstrate to us what they know.
Now, I have to figure out how to do that in my classroom.