I have had a moment of clarity, but would love to see if this resonates with you.
We all know that there are many wonderful and insightful discussions about 21st Century learning.
Also, there are lots of terms being use that have many inspiring connotations:
I understand that a common language can only come from all this creativity. Many of these terms come from marketing, which indicates to me that marketers are ahead of educators in this regard.
I also understand that this cultural and educational shift is inevitable - not "if", but "when".
Technology brings us a flood of information. That flood is the driving force behind this huge shift. Right?
Technology the cause, the medium - not the curriculum.
But, this isn't centered on teaching technology!
We need to provide our students the information literacy skill to guide their learning, so they will thrive and innovate using that technology.
What is the confusion or resistance that we face as we try to initiate this vision?
Does it all have to do with financial woes? Teachers overloaded with curriculum demands? Lack of tech hardware?
Contemplating those questions could stall progress, but I need to know what you think?
I can feel my vision slipping, being reframed by others, being looked at as "non-essential" and it makes me panic.
Any insight to help a floundering information-media literacy person?
A direct quote from a teacher in my school just yesterday: "Wouldn't it be fun to offer more project-oriented classes that allow students to really experience the math. But there are just too many standards to cover each year to have the old-time luxury of a 6-week project. Those were the good old days!" I definitely agree with your statement that the resistance stems directly from curricular demands. As librarians, or whatever you want to call us, we have to frame any discussion with the standards and show how 21st century learning, or whatever you want to call it, addresses these goals. You are absolutely right that technology is secondary, technology is not the point. The life students experience outside of the classroom IS technology, and it's about bringing real life into the classroom, breathing life into the standards. I don't know if that helps, but I feel your panic
I don't know about your district, but ours is in terrible financial conditions, as is the state, as it the fed. We have lived for so long in an extended state of fear and overload, that imagination and openness is a foreign language.
We happen to have a fantastic superintendent, a visionary I think, who says things like - When hard times hit, those are the times to re-think what we are doing, be creative, empathetic, focus on relationships and what is best for all of us. I breath all of that in, and keep on visioning. We do have limited hardware, labs, overloaded teachers. All of that is true, but there are also other truths: students need to be engaged in authentic learning. They need the tools for maneuvering through the flood of information that is available. They need to be able to evaluate that info in many ways, before using it. Etc. I am preaching to the choir.
Finding a balance - finding a way that technology can be effectively infused into this learning environment. That is part of the goal for me.
And your teacher is absolutely "spot on". It would be fun. It will be fun. And it will be so much more!
How can we make this happen? I just walked into a lab/classroom of a teacher I barely know. I hung out. I asked questions. Within 5 minutes I had the class reciting the Big 6 steps, to initiate the amazing assignment they had just been given. The teacher looked at me like I was over-the-top nuts, then he asked me to come back at 10:00. I need to go. Energized!
The paroble of the Carpenter and the Teacher:
Give a carpenter a new hammer and he will smile and say thank you. Give the carpenter a new saw the next day and he will say "Keep it coming!". The more tools you give the carpenter the happier he is. Now give a teacher tools like websites, ipads, clickers, Thinkfinity (with its 50,000 resources) and the teacher says "STOP! I can't handle all this new stuff! You have to take something away if you want me to do this new stuff."
Why is the teacher different than the carpenter when given new tools.
The carpenter says "The more tools you give me, the faster I can build this house. With better tools I can do more." Why don't teachers see tools as advantages? Why doesn't the teacher see that with better tools you can "build" a better student, faster?
Possible answer: There is no one standing over the carpenter saying "You must use the hammer every day." The carpenter responds with "I'm painting today, I don't want to use the hammer. If I paint with a hammer it will take forever and will be very frustrating." Yet that is exactly what we do to educators. We (the administration) give teachers tools and expect them to be used every day instead of when that tool is appropriate.
Possible answer: We do not put a carpenter on a "plan of improvement" if he swings and misses the nail once. We don't ask the carpenter to fill out paperwork on how many strokes he used with the saw.
Possible answer. No one expects the carpenter to use one tool to solve every problem. It's normal for a carpenter to have an entire box of tools and the freedom to use the proper tool at the proper time and it's up to the carpenter to decide, not a committee.
Possible answer. Houses are not built the same today as they were 20 years ago. Advancements in materials, fasteners, etc were embraced by the construction industry. Eduction really hasn't changed.....ever. We collectively have failed to remain modern.
Good metaphor. How about building the pyramids?
My metaphor is a river. The river is information/technology education. For so long we as educators have sat by the river. We have noticed that the river has started to change course. It feels like it is imposing itself into our land. It moves fast and faster, always changing. To enter that river takes courage. To just jump in and see where it takes us is a leap of faith. Our comfort zone is in an eddy, in a pool that the river just touches on. But we are wrong. The eddy and the pool are the results of the river, and we don't need to be so cautious. We need to model our own curiosity. Where is the wonder in learning? Why are so many of us satisfied with the lapping edge of it? Well, I think we could spend way tooooo much time pondering the reasons. Maybe we need to turn to the crowd and say - Take my hand, let's just jump in and see how that feels. -------the metaphor is beginning to take on a spiritual connotation ---not intended. But, you get my point, right?
I don't know if it will take bravery or a feeling of collaboration, but we really need to enter into a different way of teaching and learning. We need to encourage curiosity, and explore the shifting river. Information is flooding us, and we need to teach kids how to ride it safely and effectively.
I do like the image of painting with the hammer. Kind of caveman.
Good sharing - fun.
Your thoughts on encouraging curiosity and rediscovering the wonder in learning really resonate with me, since I delve daily into those issues through Wonderopolis. Just wondering what thoughts you might have on using resources like Wonderopolis to use technology and media as a way to spark curiosity and make learning fun...not only in the classroom, but also at home through parent involvement.
I found this article last night:
It illustrates the point Mark was making about how Administrators treat teachers.
I believe Jennifer's statement about framing the "21st Century Learning" into the curriculum/standards is the key. I think the resistance lies in how can a school fit a new curriculum, skills training, or knowledge set into it's already overflowing academic calendar?
A solution is for us to blend the information literacy skills into the already set curriculum at our schools -- integrating the skills into existing projects, assignments, and assessments. This is not an easy task, but it's definitely not impossible. It does place the librarian, (or whoever may be in the position of teaching information literacy skills) in a position of "great collaborator" .. meaning, the librarian needs to work with everyone in the school, be aware of class activities, and be open to compromise. Information literacy should be designed to support and ehance the existing curriculum. If it's possible for it to stand on its own -- great! -- but it still needs to be relevant to the standards as well. This is just the way education works today - if it will support assessments, if it will ensure a higher success rate on state exams - then it is viewed with higher value. If it will produce well-rounded students and life-long learners as well... well, that's the icing on the cake! I believe information literacy, when framed correctly, does all of this.
I learned calculus, and have yet to use it.
I memorized Shakespeare's birthdate, and have yet to need it.
I can titrate a solution of acids and bases, but have never needed that skill either.
Reform of education must mean reform of what we teach and well as how we teach, when we teach and who we teach.
While I think reforming the "what" is a great idea on paper - it's a dangerous, slippery slope to head down in practice. We cannot predict the paths of our students. We have no idea what opportunities they will pursue or not. Of course we cannot teach every skill, every fact, every piece of information they are going to need to be successful in life but by the same token, how do we decide what they don't need?
I myself did not learn Shakespeare's birthday but I did study his work extensively and while I have never "needed" it - I have enjoyed it and felt all the richer for it.
Umm - you got me with the calculus though Never studied it, never missed it.
Calculus users out there - let's hear from you!
It is imperative that the WHAT WE TEACH be changed as soon as possible. We are already on the slippery slope by teaching in a fact based education system. We are already losing ground on providing students with what they need for an enriched and successful life.
Education must change so that we create "life long learners". Our current system grinds to a hault the minute the teacher steps out of the room. But in a student centered system, the teacher stops becoming the perveyor of the knowlege and instead becomes the guide to help you learn what you wish to learn. In a thinking based and problem solving education system we are FUTURE PROOFING our children so they will have the skills they need no matter how the world changes.
We teach them what calculus is, we teach them its benefit and the skills to teach themselves if they ever need to know it. We do not make everyone pass a calculus test in the hope that someday they might need it.
This is the vocabulary of today, maybe even of tomorrow. How do we expect teachers to stay on board the education reform train with enthusiasm and faith if we keep changing up the vocabulary (and all the expectations that go with it) every few years - or months!