Students need Transformation

80s

The conversation around notions of the digital learner are a constant and evolving apparatus for sharing, provocation, frustration and at times annoyance. Within, a milieu where technology and student-centric learning are no longer passive ideas, I am bewildered that a segment of the population still seeks a dependence on memorization, inactivity and lack of autonomy (contributors to an economy that lacks innovation) Looking at our world – the skills that my children will need are much different than those fostered when I was in school. In fact, I now realize that in my publicly funded school days (1985 – 1999) I wanted today’s learning – but the educational landscape was not ready. It was not built to foster a love of learning and everything that comes with it, including: identity, voice, autonomy etc.

Let me take you back a week or so. At a family function, a relative criticized his child’s grade 8 teacher focusing on inquiry and not traditional numeracy and literacy. Failing to recognize that the inquiry elevates other skills, the expectation was for the child to receive the same institutionalized learning as the parent. This was depressing, considering that the last time the parent was in a grade 8 class, would have been in 1980 – the year I was born.

Much has changed since 1980. I hope we can all recognize this.

It’s not to say that I devalue the traditional but I openly embrace that my school experience was grounded within a much different cultural space. Hell, I’m writing this while jammed on a subway – where I am accompanying students to the CBC for an on air interview with Metro Mornings’ Matt Galloway in regards to a film they produced of race and police carding. Tweeted – connected – social capital gained. With this, there needs to be a recognition that along with the traditional, a new literacy exists that is rapidly increasing in importance (not fads that will go away). We as teachers and parents must embrace this or we will find ourselves and our children/students a step behind. As Will Richardson notes in “Student First, Not Stuff” “learning is now truly participatory in real world contexts.

The transformation occurs in that participation, that connection with other learners outside of school walls with whom we can converse, create and publish authentic and beautiful work.” It is such conversations that acknowledge that there is a disparity between old and new thinking- but one truth is prevalent. My classroom of 1980s is not my daughters of the 2015 – a classroom where she must converse, create and publish. We may not be in the era of Blade Runner with replicants and hovering cars but the education milieu and social landscape is a much different place. This needs to be acknowledged.

To extend your learning, read the following document titled “Creating Pathways to Success.” It’s an incredible resource that speaks to the need to transform learning.

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