Posts tagged change
Posts tagged change
For the past several years I’ve been reading about the “crisis” in education. Teachers have been blamed and labeled incompetent. There has been a concerted push by conservatives to privatize education, an attack on our democracy with severe consequences which liberals, including the Obama administration, seem unaware. The entire underpinnings of education in the twenty-first century are being tossed aside, yet no one has come forth with a unified system to replace it - why?
Computers, cars, and books can serve to show that we deal with change best when it is incremental. Perhaps the best example of keeping things familiar in a new setting is the desktop metaphor which opened computing to the masses. Command line entry appealed to only a few, yet a visual display called a “desktop,” with folders and icons brought understanding to just about everyone. The same applies to computer storage. Keeping files on a floppy disk which could be taken with you was comforting, like taking you notes in a notebook. As comfort with computing devices grew, so did the move to hard drives, CDs, and finally documents in the cloud.
Automobile bodies first reflected carriages. As they evolved, these bodies came to enclose occupants and their design became based solely on the needs of the automobile itself.
Books also, have remained relatively unchanged until recently. The rise of electronic media and personal electronic devices have seen books move more and more to these displays. To bring people to these devices, electronic books have to look like paper books, with pages that turn like paper pages. As people adjust, electronic books will evolve, using hyperlinks and embedding of visual media, which will lead to further evolution. Books in fifty years could be as different to books of today as automobiles of the early 1900s are to today’s cars.
How does all of this apply to education? Education is moving forward slowly, in fits and starts. There is no clear path for it to take. A jump too far or too fast will not be popular to most people. What is understandable and comfortable will need to be built upon. There are a few trends that are being built upon and, perhaps, need to be extended.
Knowledge is now much more accessible to everyone. As an old colleague was fond of saying, “teachers have moved from being the sage on the stage to the guide on the side.” All educators should keep this close to their hearts. The day of 45 minutes or more of lecture are over. Students need to be involved in their learning.
Distance learning will become more prevalent. Classes will become a mixture of face-to-face and online interaction. Classes will not cease when the bell rings. Students will no longer be passive learners, a boon for effective evaluation.
The end of high-stakes testing will occur in the (hopefully) near future. High-states testing is a political tool with limited educational value. Evaluation should be ongoing and demonstrable through real-world application. Currently, project-based learning appears to have the inside track toward this sort of evaluation.
So, what is a teacher who is trying to survive these tumultuous times to do? Get on Twitter and find a group of people to follow. Start following blogs of people who you like and who can provide you with the information it takes to survive teaching in the 21st century. What you are really doing is developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Learn what the trends in education are. Be innovative in class. Share with and influence your colleagues. Become a lifelong learner.
…”poor teaching results more often from poorly functioning systems than from individual
An article from Phi Delta Kappan which looks at reengineering systems rather than blaming the individuals at the bottom of the food chain - teachers.