Lately I had been reading and reflecting on post about “21st century” schools & learning. Two post that really stood out lately were Seth Godin’s Back to (the wrong) School post and Akevy Gleenblatt’s post about how tech does not equal 21st century learning. These post really have really have had me thinking about our society and wondering if it would be different if schools had been different in the past. I hated school growing up. I am not a very compliant person plus add to the fact that I have very strong opinions about things and I was a teachers worse nightmare. Luckily I had great parents who fostered my thinking outside the box, who bought me a commodore 64 at age 2, who allowed me to drag them around civil war battle grounds while on vacation in 100F heat bc of my love for history. Without this encouragement I wonder if I would have been turned off to learning, if I would have fallen into the compliant “just get the job done” mindset. I wonder how many brilliant people were discouraged because they did not fit into the normal student profile. What a waste.
The 20th century way of learning has one description: desk in rows, printables (I just gaged typing that word), workbooks, reading from textbooks, flash card memorization, pure teacher lecture (no discussion), copying notes from board, silence. We have all been in that classroom and even have taught that way – I know for 2 years I did. Yes students come out of this classroom able to take tests and even smart, the problem is these are not problem solvers or entrepreneurs. I wonder often if our problems with climate change or the economy would even be there if we had prepared our society to voice opinions and solve problems beyond 2+2.
The 21st century way of learning really does not have a set way. I think about my teaching team. I can confidently say that 3 of 4 of us are constantly striving to be 21st century teachers. I can also say that other than the 3 of us using edmodo we do everything differently, but our students are better for it. 21st century classrooms are as different as the students in them, and that is ok. This is why no one has a perfect definition of 21st century classroom.
I read information about schools and district really striving for 21st century learning. But they have to find the model that works for them. I read this post in the Back to School edition of Project PLN about Dr Bob Dillon’s school in St. Louis and thought immediately that his school is a perfect example of 21st century learning but when I read this ABC article last week on Patrick Larkin’s school I thought the same thing, even they are so different. You can compare and contrast these two schools all day but you can’t say they are not 21st century schools and amazing learning is not happening there.
So when it comes down to it we can give a lot of “don’ts” when it comes to 21st century learning but the best dos we can give is to: encourage learning, problem solving, welcome student opinions, and take advantage of the resources that are available in today’s society. We need this as soon as possible. We have to stop our deteriorating climate, political system, and economy so these students we are teaching today will have the future we now are missing out on.