There’s a revolution under way in education. Some teachers, and schools, are oblivious to it at present, in other places it seems to trickle in through the cracks. However, other teachers have fully embraced, even welcomed, the revolution in education that technology makes possible. I am one of these teachers.
In the past, I’ve used technology as an add on, attaching it here or there where it fits. I realize I can no longer do this. Consequently, I’ve thrown everything out. To some people, this may seem extreme. Trust me, it ‘s not. I’m not the type to create extra work for myself, considering I have so little extra time that I would consider spare.
I also know that I won’t permanently get rid of everything that I currently do. Instead, I’m going through the process of evaluating and sorting everything I do. Why do I teach it this way? What is the purpose of this particular exam or assignment? Is there a better way that teaches my students the skills they need to find this information themselves?
The realization that content and information is ubiquitous, and I no longer have to be the all-knowing guru of the subjects that I teach, is freeing. Instead, I can focus on teaching kids the skills they need to find authentic, reputable information and resources and to critically evaluate it. This is something I’ve wanted to do, and yet, have feared doing.
First, there is the cognitive dissonance between what currently is and what it will become, not only for me, but for my students too. What will my administration say to this change, or other teachers, especially if my classroom looks and functions differently than every other classroom in the school? And my students, will they not wonder why I’m no longer giving them the information, and, instead, requiring them to do “my” job, by teaching them how to learn?
Second, there is the learning curve that this requires. However, I’m not afraid of things I do not know. Instead, the thing that gives me hope is that in 3 weeks, or 3 months, I will not be where I am today. And a year from now, my class will likely look completely different. I have been inspired by the breadth of ways that Zoe Branigan-Pipe uses technology in her classes. However, the thing that has inspired me more, is this video by Michael Wesch. I am excited to bring an experience like this to my students, which is my project this semester.
I plan to prepare my students for the reality that is already here. We cannot continue to have classrooms that look the same as they did fifty years ago and tell ourselves that we’re preparing our students effectively. If we believe this lie, it is our students who will pay the consequences.
photo courtesy of Creative Commons – Tony Hall