21st Century Problems

Yesterday at church I didn’t have my Bible. It wasn’t because I forgot it at home, it was because the app on my phone kept crashing. So annoying. First thing that came to mind was ’21st century problems.’ Went to back out of my garage and couldn’t see because my back up camera was dirty. Annoyed again and thought ’21st century problems.’

Yet today I’ve gotten 2 emails about 21st century classrooms. The weird part, both emails took the tone that 21st century classrooms and learning was something of the future. Something that we need to prepare for. Also, neither email (nor anything else I’ve read lately) really defined 21st century learning.

Well here’s the deal, it is 2013. 2013. That means we have been in this century for 13 years. So if you are a teacher you are in a 21st century classroom. No matter when it was built or what you have in it. So to me this whole 21st century stuff is just gibberish. Just some catch-phrase to get your attention.

Not many of us have adequate technology in our classrooms (I know I don’t even come close). Some of us don’t have space for kids to collaborate. We may work in a place where websites that could increase learning are blocked. We may have $0 budgets. We may be in schools with strict ‘no cellphone’ policies. Unfortunately the 21st century isn’t like everyone was advertising with schools providing everyone computers and wifi, yeah it happens but it isn’t the norm. Schools still look like they did in 1999. Trust me I know, I was in high school then. We had computer labs and spent time in there working on PowerPoints. Sound familiar?

The thing is, outside of school everything has changed. We do all have tiny computers in our pockets. We have access to books by opening an app. We have Internet any where any time. We have cars with back up cameras, heck for an upgrade my car could’ve parked itself. We have 3D TVs. We even have bikinis that charge your iPhone using solar energy. Yet schools haven’t changed much. And really I’m not sure there is much we can do about this and it makes me insane.

What we can do is make sure we are preparing students for their future and today. Make sure we are teaching problem solving. Make sure students are aware how to use the technology that they do have can be used for learning. (I swear I want to do a cartwheel every time a kid asks if he can google something on their phone – though I wish they felt they had the freedom to just do it w/o asking.) Make sure we fight to get the technology our kids need.

Though our classrooms may look the same, our world is not. We must bring the world THEY know into our classroom. We must stay up to date with tech, because our job is to prepare our students for THEIR futures, we can’t do that with just pencils and paper. We must prepare them to deal with their share of ’21st century problems.’

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Erin @ Miss Lifesaver says:

    I love this post! I guess I never really sat down and thought about how much my classroom today resembles the classrooms I learned in as a student. You’re absolutely right that it’s not even close to what we imagined it to be. And why is it that we keep talking about 21st century classrooms as if it’s something on the horizon, after 13 years? Interesting!

    I’m one of those schools with strict no-technology policies for students, one computer lab per grade level (with pretty much every site blocked), interactive white boards in only half of the classrooms, etc. I, too, wish I could do more to teach kids HOW to use this technology to promote lifelong learning.

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