photo credit – malaysianminilover
It’s Already Happened
In a post on edtechdigest, Cat McManus states in the column Living in a Digital World We Don’t Understand
The digital revolution has already happened, and at every level, students demand—and their future success requires—that their educational experiences reflect the world they already live in: a largely digital world.
This is so absolutely true that’s it’s becoming painful to continue to discuss at times. But discuss it we must and remind people that there is a need for change. Why? McManus sums this up in the next piece in the article which really is a key to understanding where we seem to be at this juncture in education:
Why teach 21st century skills, if students are already living in a digital world? The answer is that just because they live in a digital world doesn’t mean they fully understand it, nor can we assume that they have the skills to respond to the huge amounts of information and stimuli constantly bombarding them….In short, while students often know how to “work” the Internet and various applications, mining them for entertainment potential or the basic information needed for a report or project, few understand the building blocks of our digital world and how to manipulate them and avoid, in turn, being manipulated.
We seem to be caught in this huge dog-tail chasing discussion that we cannot seem to break –
We throw in some PBL, Maker Space, Genius Hour, Coding or whatever is your preference for trying to make a shift only to begin the discussion circle of –
So, when I read that Finland was moving away from the subject approach to teaching to a topic focus I was definitely intrigued. After reading through a few different articles, by no means is this even close to covering the comments on this topic, I wonder how this is going to play out and how it might change the current structures of learning. As the article quotes Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager
“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow.
In my own twitter feed, I’ve already had a few twittersations about the topic. Some seem to feel that in many areas in NA we are not ready for such a radical shift away from the current system. Yet, wouldn’t this be a great way to shift the focus and have students learn the skills that they will need to be successful – now?
But this shift? Might this be what allows us to seriously talk about change? Or will we continue to watch, chasing the tail? This doesn’t mean we need to follow carte blanche what is happening in other places. But could this unsettle us to the degree that conversations change? By doing this, does “Do what’s best for students!” break the old mould where technology has been the main focus and creating learning experiences for students now is important? Can we truly discuss gender, race, class, ability, environment, poverty as it applies to “What’s best for students” and not assessment, test scores and behaviour programs?
We live in the science fiction of the past – almost scared by the stories that we’ve told ourselves about the impact this digital world will have on us – wanting to embrace being digital but leery of what will happen – our schools the prime example of this duality where students live a constant promise of “skills for the future” while held in the “traditions of the past”.
Maybe, just maybe, this break from tradition will propel us forward since what’s holding us back seems to be our fear of embracing now on its own terms. It’s not about teachers’ skills or curriculum or technology – although these do play a part. It’s about how the way we situation ourselves today. Will this move us toward a forward looking discussion of today instead of the backward facing discussion that currently dominates education? Whatever happens in Finland, let’s hope we don’t wait to play catchup but, instead, begin to have discussions about changing today looking forward.