Saturday, January 10, 2009

pondering the future

I just left this comment on doyle's edublog "Science Teacher" in response to his musings about what kinds of skills teachers should be preparing their students for. Am I too idealistic?
I wholeheartedly agree with Spencer, preparing for the unknown possibilities of the future is simply recognizing that it is unknown. We cannot continue to prepare our students for factory jobs or middle management anymore. Now it's time to focus our efforts on creating creative critical thinkers who are flexible and independent in their learning when they leave us. Of course, this has been done for centuries in school settings, like your earthworm example in your previous post. Using current technologies is another weapon in the teacher's arsenal to accomplish the goal of facilitating learning, whatever the age or level of learner-there seems to be something out there for everyone. The evolution in education that is happening now should be a refinement of what we are doing well and an adventure in discovering how we can serve our students and create an even better future for us all.
My head is also floating around a conversation that I had with Scmorgan yesterday about progressives and conservatives. Seems that teachers fall toward one end or the other-embracing and running toward new change or staunchly trying to hold on to the tried and true, nobly. Where do you fall on the continuum? I wonder 1) if most teachers are more progressive which explains penduluum shifts in teaching methods, and 2) if most teachers today who embrace new technologies are more progressive, eager to give it try and less fearful of the brave new world before us.
I guess it's pretty clear that I am more progressive and actually enjoy the new challenges that Will Richardson and his web 2.0 revolution have presented me with. However, I attribute my sanity mostly to my husband who is a more conservative person and reminds me to preserve the successes of the past while building toward the future. The scary unknown future is not so scary when we remember that there WILL always be new things to learn and master and human by nature will look to teachers and masters to help them in their learning. So what does Socrates look like in the 21st century?


Patrick Higgins said...


I, too, have the grounding influence of my wife to rely on when I get too nutty or discouraged. She's a 4th grade teacher, and her insight into the practical side of what makes for success in a classroom truly helps me understand when I need to reconsider how I view the decisions my teachers make in the classroom.

That being said, the more I get into these discussions lately, I keep coming back to something Ryan Bretag said during panel discussion I was part of: "We need to define what it means to be well-educated in today's society." That, for me, is the biggest problem we face because I think there is a fundamental difference in today's definition of "well-educated" than there was when I was in school. The difference lies in our ability to teach ourselves and learn in new situations autonomously.

And, by the way, you do know that Doyle from The Science Teacher was in the audience yesterday, don't you?

SCMorgan said...

Keep at it. That's about all I can say...
But I've seen strong evidence in the ninth-grade that this is working.
That said, I can't leave comments on Jonathan's or Brendan's blogs b/c they pulled in the RSS from their other blog which is protected. I just sent you an email about Matt's tho. Check it out!