Let’s Stake 21st Century Learning

HDR - Chiesa gotica?
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: -MandarX- via Compfight

“You do not let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life is not of account to you.” -Abraham Van Helsing

Why are educators and parents still talking about preparing students for the 21st century as if it is the future?  We have been living in the 21st century for more than a decade yet the term “21st century” is a ubiquitous term that seems to be the one undead piece of jargon that refuses to have a stake driven through its heart.  Its zombie companions, “digital native” and “digital immigrant” are also notoriously difficult to kill and seem to perpetuate the myth that there are those who should be excused from learning technology because they were born before it was invented. I know plenty so-called digital immigrants that can outshine their digital native siblings.

We’ve been asked to teach our students the skills they will need to flourish in their future. Yet so many times we do not give them the tools that are being used in today’s workplace. Parent and educators balk at giving a student a $500 tablet but don’t bat an eye when their book bags are filled with $900 worth of books.

I ask, how are we expecting our students to thrive in a world that will demand universal use of technology in one form or another when we are handing them materials made from trees and printed with plant pigments? We seem to live in a world where the adults are teaching children based upon their own “comfort” level rather than the needs of the child.

I often field statements from parents and even some educators that are along the lines of: “That’s not how they taught me when I was in school.”  I have news for the world; the way we should be teaching children isn’t going to be remotely close to how I was taught when I was in school.  I’m not saying that those methods were ineffective.  They were effective for the world and time in which they were used.  But many educators and parents have a death grip or proclivity toward antediluvian pedagogical practices, because we are more comfortable with what we know than what we don’t know.  I think Hamlet would agree that we would “rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.” It is truly something worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy.

The best learning takes place when the teacher and the student are learning together, when the role of mentorship and guidance shifts, ebbs and flows with the nature of the lesson.  Its time we stop “preparing our students and classrooms for the 21st century” and looking to prepare our students for the 22nd century. We live in a time where knowledge is at our fingertips.  To remain stagnant in our practices only holds our students back from reaching their true potential. Lets call in Van Helsing and Rick Grimes and put a stake in the heart of 21st century learning while effectively stopping the spread of Zombies like digital natives and immigrants.

I’m interested in your thoughts. Are you ready to start talking about 22nd century learning? How do you approach parents and educators who want to teach children the same way they were taught nearly a half-century earlier?  Click on the comment bubble at the top of this post or click here to leave a comment.

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