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.
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.