Rethinking Education

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

After reading Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology by Allan Collins and Richared Halverson, I am left with many more questions than answers. The following is a sample of my written notes from the margins of my copy. I highly recommend this book.

We have experienced the knowledge explosion. The dust settled. Can we evolve, adjust and survive?

Have computers extended the human mind beyond the limits of even the finest teachers?

Is technology disrupting local community building?

Are today’s schools mostly knowledge factories where one attempts to learn what “very esteemed thinkers” believe necessary to prosper?

Will we build schools that respect the students’ innate curiosity and need for solving real-life problems? Will we change only when we start losing our client base?

Will we create an environment where we celebrate failure as a sign of pure learning?

Will we allow students to roam freely between learning spaces? Will we trust students to take control of their own learning?

Can we create schools that create organizations and systems that enhance, rather than stifle, innovation?

Am I part of the problem?

Can we recognize and celebrate all that we are already doing to satisfy our students’ far-reaching demands?

Will we allow parents and students back into curriculum development and implementation?

Are we teaching all students successfully? Can we afford to let our students live a life of confinement until they leave high school?

Can we name and end the barriers of learning?

With improved educational leadership, can the need for classroom management be a thing of the past?

Can all teachers be allowed to inspire?

So many of my students are competitive, scared and lacking confidence. Am I allowing my kids to make the most of their time in the classroom?

Can we continue to teach curriculum that we know is out of sync with what students need to know?

Can we create a system that respects students right to question and investigate their own answers?

How much of my work day is bureaucracy of one form or the other?

Why is school attendance still compulsory? Why can’t kids learn from home?

Why are kids graded by age? Never, in the past year, have I been in a room filled with fellow forty-five year olds.

Why are teachers’ editions of textbooks still used in school?  Why is so much of the school day dedicated to tradition, behavior control and consistency?

How come students, parents and teachers do not write report cards collaboratively? Why aren’t all students on an Individualized Education Plan?

Why are Middle and High Schools such pressure cookers?

Can we accept that students are much more tech-savvy and more understanding of the adult world than we are wiling to believe?

Can we pay teachers to pursue their own personalized learning?

Can we allow for more project-based curriculum?

Can we accept that a culture of lifelong learning is what we all need to survive?

Can educational gaming and simulations become more of the day-to-day instruction and not a distraction to avoid at all costs?

Will alternative certificates and “badges” replace standard issue, high school diplomas?

Is High School already an anachronism?

Again, I urge all to read this book.  Your students will thank you.

Reference:

Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology. New York and London: Teachers College Press

  

Image from Google Images

A Discussion with Mr. Aaron Metz, Apple Distinguished Educator

Teachers.

Yesterday at the 21st Century Learning Conference, Hong Kong; I was fortunate to meet up with Apple Distinguished Educator, Mr. Aaron Metz. Aaron was kind enough to allow me twenty minutes to interview him for this podcast. In this interview, Aaron discusses trends in educational technology, social connections and the value of dynamic leaders in schools. He closes the discussion by highlighting the meaningful work that his students are doing.

If you are an educator, I am positive that you will be highly impressed with Aaron. Enjoy.

AaronMetzpodcast

“What are you going to focus on now that testing is over?”

#4thchat asks, “What are you going to focus on now that testing is over?”

This question makes me delighted that I am out of the US Public Schools’ system. My entire public school career loomed with the specter of school restructuring.  Thankfully, international schools generally do not put too much emphasis on standardized testing.

This one fact is a definitive improvement in quality of life. Fortunately, standardized tests are just a small piece of the assessment puzzle. Teaching without a looming threat of school de-certification really allows me to work on my craft.

Living overseas, I have been able to focus on learning-based curriculum. I still assess, however. My assessments are more for learning and not of learning. This has made all the difference. In short, my student assessments directly affect my teaching practice. They are more meaningful and viewed as more credible to all the stakeholders

International schools, from my experience, focus more on learning and not achievement. That said, we still spend some time with standardized testing. Mercifully, this time goes by quickly and we can go back to teaching the curriculum. This is a tremendous positive shift in my practice.

Reading today’s New York Times article further proves my point. Students are the losers in this game. Parents are rightfully scared that their kids will not get a proper education. Teachers must improve scores while not necessarily improving learning. This is inherently sad.

I will not try to offer solutions to the education reform movement. However, I offer that there are alternatives to the United States method of educating youth. I delight in the surge in online learning from Khan Academy. I connect students to Ted-Ed.com. I pay attention to folks such as Sir Ken Robinson, Punya Mishra and Sugata Mitra. I dream of a future where challenged based learning is the norm. I find myself energized by accomplishments of countries such as Finland.

If you are an American public school teacher, what are your thoughts on the standardized testing development?

Best of luck as you endure yet another year of high stakes testing.