As Markham writes in this article, it is very true that education has gone through cycles for the past 150 years as the debate continues to rage on between what type of schooling is "better": the traditional format, or an alternative format, such as project-based learning. While there are rewards to both, this article points out some of the things we, as teachers, really need to keep in mind in this day and age. We live in a more inter-connected world than ever existed before. Because of this reality, we can now do things that were unimaginable before. It seems that we get stuck in this rut of "educating doesn't change, only the times do." However, when we look at the evolving times, we need to realize that education does need to change.
Back at the dawn of man, we did what we needed to in order to survive and that often meant caring for our families and getting food to feed them. As civiliaztions rose, the idea then changed to working for the king, and sometimes the populace, but your line of work was pretty much determined from birth, and the idea of "class mobility" only really came into reality after the New World was dicovered. When years ago we were more interested in getting people ready to work on farms, things shifted to working in factories. After that, another shift to getting them out of factories and into the cushy (though monotonous) office jobs. This has shifted once again and now we are pushing into the world of technological advancement.
This is not a good or bad thing, just a change, and as education has had to have changed with each of these age-shifts, this is happening once again (only this time, the shift is happening at a much quicker rate, thanks to technology). Some teachers swear that they still just need the book... just teach the book and the kids will be fine. This is utter ridiculousness! If the book could teach the kids, then why are you collecting a paycheck? You wouldn't pay an electrician to wire your house if he had no experience with electronics and was just going to "read the manuals" he bought. Why would we do that with our kids? The teacher's job now is no longer to teach content. Yes, that part still exists, but with something like google, content is now secondary. We need to teach what google cannot answer! If you ask google, "What date is considered American Independence Day?" It will respond, "July 4, 1776." But if we asked, "Why was there a fight for American Independence?," google can only find others' ideas and opinions... not a right answer. And that is what teachers need to do... stimiluate the minds of students - not babysit them from 7:30 am-3:00 pm.
As the article points out, we need to concentrate on four main goals in our "New Story" of teaching: "Appreciate the power, beauty, and challenge of the present moment"; "Contribute to a global vision"; "Redefine Smart"; and "Live the collaborative reality." To appreciate the power, beauty, and challenge of the present moment, we need to do some of what I already spoke of - we need to use the resources we never had ourselves for the betterment and inspiration of the students. We may have never coded, but if students can learn to code and want to use it, by all means let them. If they are inspired they will learn more than anything we can forcefeed them and they will be more passionate about it too.
When contributing to a global vision, we need to look outside the walls of "school." Why do a report on homelessness in America when we can do food drives, shlter visits, clothing drives and other things that will impact the kids on an empathetic level. Book smarts and statistics can do only so much... its all different when you experience it.
Redefinig smart means to... basically... not teach to the test (like I've said before). Yes, kids need to know content, but more important than any content, they need to learn, as Markham writes, are "grit, resiliency, empathy, curiosity, openness, creativity, and evaluative thinking." Those are the things that make kids "smart" today. Most of these things, I have already talked about above.
Finally, live the collabotative reality: I would say this is one of, if not the, most important one on the list. Even though the world is getting smaller, we tend to think that asking for help, or working WITH someone is a sign of weakness, or even "cheating." In reality, most work is done collaboratively. There aren't many businesses out there with just one employee and owner doing everything. People have all sorts of jobs, yes, but they work as part of a whole. And in an even bigger picture, that is how the world works too.
If teachers can learn to teach these four things among their content, we may be in for a massive and exciting awakening when this next generation rises!
Markham, Thom. (2015, February 11). "Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’." MindShift. Web. 20 November 2016.
This article was written by Thomas L. Friedman as he set out to talk to Lazlo Bock (the man in charge if hiring) at Google after hearing that in an interview he had said that G.P.A.s and test grades mean nothing when they are looking for new hires. With Google being so successful, Friedman wanted to talk to Bock himself and ask him some questions himself.
Friedman writes that Bock says, "Good grades certainly don’t hurt." The fact is that many jobs do take math and computing skills, but they look at more than just grades. He also points out that if your grades show your skill in an area, it would only be advantageous. He states that at google, there are 5 hiring attributes they are looking for. "If it’s a technical role, we assess your coding ability, and half the roles in the company are technical roles. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly." He continues saying that second is "leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership... What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power."
Third and fourth, Bock states is humility and ownership respectively. He explains these by pointing out theveryone needs to have a sense of ownership in their work. Everyone has something to contribute to the group and then they need to know when to step back. Basically, know how much is your responsibility and when you need to leave it to others. He points out that people who are very successful in life don't often experience failures, and therefore, they don't learn as much. Someone with humility and ownership can can take, understand, and learn from failure, while at the same time taking responsibility for it.
Finally, they look at expertise ("the least important attribute"). The way Bock sees it is that this is least important because an expert will know what to do because they have done it many times before, whereas the non-expert will likely FIND the right answer, given the time. So while it is important, it is not the most important attribute.
I agree with what Bock says and his approach reflects what teachers need to ensure is taught in school. Don't teach to the test, but teach skills. Yes, there is content that needs to be taught, but soft skills will better serve them in life then knowing the date that the French Monarchy fell giving rise to the next Era of the French Revolution. If someone can learn, has emergent leadership potential, has humility and ownership in their work, and has at least some expertise, they would be a great asset to any job. As discussed earlier in this blog, all of these things are important for life, and so it is no surprise that one of the most successful international technology businesses hires based mostly on these attributes.
Fiedman, Thomas L. (2014, February 22). "How to Get a Job at Google." The New York Times. Web. Retrieved on 16 December 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=2
This small clip speaks so much to what I have learned this semester, and not just that, but the interesting fact that this study was actually shared IN CLASS during an observation. The students were in the process of learning about the brain and how it work during their science period. They learned about things such as neuroplasticity, neurons, synapases, axioms, dendrites, myelin sheaths, etc. While they went through the physical study in their sience period, in the team's other room (humanities), they were learning about psychology, and in that subject, particularly behavioral science. They talked and learned about classical conditioning, operant conditioning, growth mindset, and one of the most important things one can learn about... FAILURE!
Now the important thing to understand is the way in which this topic was approached in both classes. While some schools may prefer not to talk about it, or at least not much about it, failure is a very real part of life and must be addressed. But in my class, it wasn't just addressed: it was delved into head-on from the very first day. On the first day of class, my co-teacher told the students that what he expected from them this year was, first and foremost, to TAKE RISKS! Not only that, but he expected them to FAIL! As many would guess, the students didn't like that idea, and you could see it on their faces. They all had the same, or at least similar, thoughts: "Why would my teacher be expecting me to fail?" I was a little wary at first as well. Shouldn't a teacher be expecting his students to succeed? But then, he continued...
He said that what he meant is that failure isn't a "bad word." And many times in school, we see it in that light. Rather, "Failure is just another word for growing." Over in the science class, the other team teacher said something similar - "Your brain grows more and you learn more from failure than you do from success." This is not to say that success is a bad thing, but rather that taking risks and failing in school will help students learn a great amount more than anything a TEACHER can TEACH them. She shared with them this same study and the students were now more ready than before to take risks and even fail.
I eventually also added to this by telling the students my favorite story about Thomas Edison. When questioned about his 2,000 failures in creating a light bulb. Edison responded that he didn't fail 2,000 times to make a light bulb, he just found 2,000 ways how NOT to make a light bulb, but he only needed to find 1 way to make it work!
[Youcubed at Stanford]. (2016, April 25). TED Talk clip. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_skSkvuDXc&index=26&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp
The point of this is mainly a criticism of the way we do education today. Because we are living in a world where many of the higher-ups in education are coming from an age in which computers were not in the classroom. While computers and digital devices have now become ubiquitous, those in charge of educating are still trying to catch up to all the advancement s that have been made. One of the examples that Wesch shows is the same example as in one of his other speeches. There is a student holding up a scantron. Now growing up, I used to either love, or hate scantrons. Multiple choice or true/false tests are much easier to fake than a written test. Back at that time, I was concerned with one thing - passing the test. I was not concerned with learning, because at that time I was just told over and over again (even by teachers), "You just need to know this for the test. After the test you can forget it." Even back then, my lack of reason asked the question, "If that's true and I can just forget this... then why am I learning this?"
What this Video Points out is a problem within the educational arena in that we have not evolved with the times as quickly as we should have. We have nearly the entire collection of human knowledge out there on the web and how much are classes actually using it? Why are we still using textbooks from big companies (most of which the students won't read anyway) instead of going onto credible sites online, accessing primary documentation uploaded for viewing by the Library of Congress, finding real world studies to use in math, etc. Why is it that we are stifling use of this AMAZING resource we call, "The Internet."
True. There is a good amount that is not credible online. And this video points out one of these snags. The great thing about Wikipedia is that, when it was conceived, it grew very quickly because it was an online encyclopedia that ANYONE could add to... and edit. The problem came from the fact that ANYONE could add or EDIT the information. This made Wikipedia enter the "unreliable" category of sources found online. Now, while wikipedia has changed and evolved and now has entry checkers, it has gotten better and more reliable, but it is still not school worthy and this is understandable.
However, schools should be making the internet a more used resource. We learn from others and the more we discuss things, the more our brains grow and the more critically we begin to think. Let students blog, rather than write in a journal. Let students run a forum rather than a class discussion. Have student work posted online so that the world can see it and respond to it. That is how we learn and that is how we get better. Allow the children of the word to speak and watch how much more they learn from that.
Wesch, Michael. [Michael Wesch]. (2011, Jan 24). Rethinking Education. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xb5spS8pmE&index=16&list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp.
Richard Sable is from Vista, CA and graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2014 with a B.A. in Social Science and is currently working on his single subject teaching credential in the field of Social Science at CSU, San Marcos.