Tag Archives: education in a digital age

Reclaiming the Language by Jim Bower from Red Deer Alberta

Have you ever taken part in a conversation about progressive education or school reform and left the dialogue wondering if you were even talking about the same topic? Often I’m left wondering how this can happen. How can two people talk about the same topic with very similar vocabulary, and yet be having two separate conversations at once?

It would be convenient if we could simply differentiate the discussion via politics; however, it would also be inaccurate. There’s a reason why Rep. John Kline (R-MN) recently remarked with chilling accuracy that the Obama-Duncan education game plan is “straight from the traditional Republican playbook.” The larger point to be taken here is that it doesn’t matter whether you are speaking with a liberal, a conservative, a Democrat, a Republican, reading the Washington Post or Newsweek – when it comes to education, most of them are indistinguishable from Fox News.
So how do we differentiate between the authentic and the rhetoric? In his article The Case Against ‘Tougher Standards’, Alfie Kohn states, “Today, it is almost impossible to distinguish Democrats from Republicans on this set of issues — only those with some understanding of how children learn from those who haven’t a clue.” So who has a clue?

To sort out who does and who doesn’t, I think we need to understand how one Washington DC activist put it, “It’s gotten to the point where I’m almost embarrassed to be associated with the word ‘reform'”. There is nothing inherently wrong with school reform – but there is something amiss with the way the word has come to be defined. Words like achievement, data, 21st century skills and accountability have been bastardized by those who haven’t a clue about real learning.

A real discussion about 21st Century education would require us to understand how wrong we got it in the 20th Century. Some might say that there is a war going on in schools between behaviourism and constructivism and the kids are losing while others have written “One cannot understand the history of education in the United States during the twentieth century unless one realizes that Edward K. Thorndike won and John Dewey lost.”

If we really want to have an authentic discussion about 21st Century education and data-driven accountability then we better be crystal clear what we mean by these concepts.

ACCOUNTABILITY: in it’s current context, accountability is simply a code word meaning more control for people outside the classroom over those who are inside the classroom. Ever wonder why we can’t get school reform right? I won’t profess to have the definitive answer, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the fact that education is being run by people who have no practical experience or professional training in how children learn. What’s worse is that these clueless dictators have the audacity to enforce their ignorance through manipulative legislation, and when those who know better speak up, they are beat down by the accountability club.

So how do we reclaim the word accountability? We need to redefine it. John Spencer, a teacher from Arizona, says “accountability should mean that when you wander off too far, there is a group of people calling you back and saying, ‘Look, you belong here. You are important to us.'” For those who claim we need accountability in its current form, I encourage them to look to Finland who don’t even have a word in their language for accountability, so they use responsibility – the difference being much more than simple semantics.

DATA: Number crunching, data mongers see children as data-in-waiting. Their bodies are simply transportation devices for their number two pencils. And yet, one test isn’t even enough for these spreadsheet junkies, so they feed their mania for reducing everything to numbers by having tests that prepare kids to take a benchmark test before they take the test. Sadly, the worst teachers don’t teach to the test any more, they test to the test. The problem here is that if their goals are simply higher test scores (raise achievement) then their methods are not going to be worth much. In other words, even if we achieved all the test scores the policy makers could ever want, we would end up providing the kids with nothing they really need. Things go very, very wrong when a teacher knows more about how to raise a kid’s test score than how to raise a kid.

If we want to reclaim data, and we do need to, we need to stress that real learning is found in children not data. The best teachers never need tests to gather information about children’s learning nor do they need grades to share that information with others. They know that there is no substitute for what a teacher can see with their own eyes when observing and interacting with students while they are learning, and any attempt to reduce something as magnificently messy as real learning will only ever conceal more than it will reveal. I might go so far as to say that the best educators in the 21st Century understand that “measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning” except that this has been true in every century. Anyone using data must understand that what we see largely depends on what we look for and there’s a huge difference between valuing what we measure and measuring what we value – but again, this is true regardless of the date on the calendar.

21st CENTURY SKILLS: Unfortunately, most people who speak about 21st Century Skills actually think that something changed because the date on the calendar advanced. They also (mis)assume that we are in some competitive race for the finish line – except there’s no competition and there’s no finish line. Education reform built on the foundation of competition is a house of cards just waiting to be toppled over.

If we really care about getting school reform right in the 21st Century, then we have to go back to two men from the previous century who have framed how we think of truly progressive education – John Dewey and Jean Piaget.

Dewey’s message focused on democracy as a way of life, not just a form of government, and that “thinking is something that emerges from our shared experiences and activities.” Piaget taught us that “even very young children play an active role in making sense of things, ‘constructing’ reality rather than just acquiring knowledge.

If we take the work of Dewey and Piaget seriously, we have to acknowledge that the best kind of education we can provide our children has nothing to do with the date on the calendar and more to do with understanding how children learn.

In the end, I have one question about the 21st Century: will the politicians and policy makers figure out what Dewey and Piaget figured out in the 20th Century, and will they listen to the modern day education experts such as Linda Darling-Hammond, Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn, Yong Zhao and Constance Kamii before we get to the 22nd?

Some highlights of Alfie Kohn’s interview withRoss Greene  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/drrossgreene/2010/02/01/collaborative-problem-solving-at-school from Joe Bower’s Blog:

  • There is a big difference between working with kids and doing things to kids.
  • Punishing and rewarding are not only ineffective but they are also counter-productive in raising children.
  • We get lost in finding new techniques to gain compliance from children, when we really need to be clear of our ultimate goal – help children become ethical, caring people.
  • Kids who get rewards and praise tend to be less generous than their peers. Self-interest trumps caring for others.
  • No kid ever benefits from punishment.
  • There is a big difference between control and structure. Highly structured learning environments need not be controlled from the top-down. Students need to play an active and democratic role in forming the structure of the classroom.
  • The more we focus on just compliance, the more we will shuffle through an endless product line of gimmicks and tricks that will never achieve our ultimate goals.
  • Time-outs, or more accurately Forcibly Isolated, classrooms no longer feel safe. These classrooms become conditional and we all lose from these kinds of traditional, punitive interventions.
  • Not much learning takes place in a classroom that is too quiet.
  • Our classroom management techniques can be quite effective, but we must ask “effective at what?”
  • Kids make good decisions by making decisions not following directions.
  • Unconditional acceptance is at the heart of any good classroom.
  • The best teachers are those who make the curriculum worth learning.
  • Punishment by any name, even consequences, ruptures the safe and caring alliance that must be nourished between teacher and student.
  • Punishment is less about solving problems and more about revenge and inflicting pain and suffering.

Computer Technology at KRMS

Computer Technology Integration at KRMS

1. Creativity (personal expression, student based,)

2. Collaboration (teachers, cross curriculum (middle school philosophy), and students), experts, communication, contribution to team projects, create for an audience, (sharing Web 2.0)

3. Research Skills (evaluation, synthesize, ethics, process data), information fluency, C-Span, You Tube, use of library on-line tools such as United Streaming, on line book marking Thinkquest, delicious, diigo, RSS feeds of news sources, etc., google reader,

4. Critical Thinking and Problem solving (planning, decision making), selection of appropriate applications (software and hardware necessary to complete project rather than isolating instruction, visual literacy)

5. Digital Citizenship (safe, legal, responsible, social responsibility, plagiarism, creative commons)

6. Technology Operation (not isolated, adaptability, tool needed to accomplish task )

Possible Projects:

podcasts, Examples: Book talks, David Eastman Country Ecology radio shows

blogging Questions and answers, collaboration, sharing, blogging on issues in the news (diigo, google reader, http://lpeterson.edublogs.org/ Vista blogs

Slide shows (PhotoShop as a tool) Examples: historical personages or events with research voice over or text, science , math demos

Videos (require planning and scripting) Examples: students create story using same themes from book or stories they are reading), Vista style research project, science math demonstrations, music, cooking instructions, book trailer

Story telling: scripts, plays, booklets, form and content, elements of a story (written or visual)

Desktop Publishing: brochures, cards, newsletter, menus, etc.

Time lines, spreadsheets and charts, promotional posters, house design, newsletter, business cards, catalogs, advertisements, webquests, recreate sounds, music,, and picture of an era (Ken Burns), create websites, video trailers, student created question and answer books, write a song or poem or story relative to a topic or era, spreadsheets (budget, grade averages, database, mathematical formulas, art museum, website on famous person, PowerPoint presentation on financial success of a company, students pretend to be travel agents and create promotional PowerPoint, Start a business track business on excel, create a digital magazine, create a TV commercial, use a wiki to critique a book or short story,

http://its.leesummit.k12.mo.us/ Computer Integration ideas

Book Marks: http://delicious.com/filmrd,

E-mail: rgdavidson@govwentworth.k12.nh.us

Book Marks: http://www.diigo.com/user/filmrd,

School Website: www.govwentworth.k12.nh.us Click on “Our Schools”,

Portaportal: guest.portaportal.com/krms (Links to sites for classroom use)

Educational Blogs By Discipline – Go to our website

http://filmrd.edublogs.org

Skype

http://web.mac.com/geographyguy/Welcome/Welcome.html Mr. McCracken

The Curriculum Component. A team of teachers (content area teachers, a special education teacher and a computer teacher) work together to integrate computer use into a six- to eight-week curriculum unit. Teachers first select a unit topic that cuts across disciplines. For example, a topic such as immigration, space exploration, or medical breakthroughs in the 20th century could comfortably link language arts, the framework for carrying out a research process where students:

* Become actively engaged as learners who pose personally meaningful questions related to the content/topic;

* Devise a research plan that uses a variety of relevant sources;

* Gather, integrate and construct knowledge by working independently and cooperatively with other students; and

* Produce a finished product that describes what the research process entailed and conveys what was learned.

During the unit, teachers help students gradually construct and expand their knowledge of key concepts, issues and vocabulary related to the topic. Teachers encourage cooperative learning so that students share information, give each other feedback and support one another’s efforts. Writing becomes an ongoing process that involves pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing (to an audience).

Make It Happen! is based on

findings from a three-year study

funded by the U.S. Department

of Education.

Ten Items All should Know About Google by Michael Gorman

Ten Items All Should Know When Using Google Basic Search…. Far From Basic… The Googal In Google!

1. The word And is assumed… Example: red and white and blue is a search for  red white blue

2. Compound Words, Phrases, and Names; use a String (in other words put the words in quotes  “  “…   Example: “George Washington”“Fort Wayne” “to be or not to be” “United States of America” “Star Wars” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

3. Want to eliminate a word: use the Not Command which is a – (minus sign)… Example:  Looking for the country Turkey, but not the bird…  Turkey -bird

4. Capital Letters and articles of speech are ignored unless put  in quotes…  Example: United States of America is treated as united states america but “United States of America” is treated as United States of America

5. The root form of a word looks for all forms of the word… Example: walk = walks, walker, walking, walked

6. Use a tilde (~) to search with other word of similar meaning… Example ~happy searches for happy and synonyms of happy ~large planet(large could be: big, vast, giant, enormous

7. Putting a plus (+) in front of word to keep it exactly as is. This dismisses adding other options to root word… Example:  +walk (only walk: does not inlude walker, walks, walking, walked)

8. Wild Card (*) allows for missing words in a phrase (not missing letters). Forget a word in a title or quote, try a wildcard… Example: “Obama voted on the * on the * bill” Note this is mixed with the string concept.

9. The word OR (in caps) allows two ideas to be reported together… Example: “Indianapolis Colts” 2010 OR 2009

10. Get to know the Google Command Lines. These are useful for quick references in a Basic Google Search. Give them a try and experience the power in narrowing down a search. The list of over twenty starts with some real power suggestions and ends with some everyday useful ideas.

INTITLE – To narrow search by finding web sites that have key word in title you may type the words intitle: followed by word you are searching for (Note no spaces) … Example: intitle:ipad …  Return example

INTEXT – Same as above only it narrows search to only keywords found in text (Note no spaces)… Example intext:ipad … Return example

LINK – This command determines who is linking to a site. Great command to determine credibility and popularity of a site. To use the link command there are no spaces. Type word link: and follow with complete URL (Note if you remember to put no space after the colon you will get true account of active hyper-links, if you use a space you will get hyper-links and text mentions which will be a higher number)…Example link:www.apple.com … Return example

SITE – Found a great site, but you want to then just search in that site.  Perhaps you just want to search government sites or you want to see the Race For The Moon in perspective from Russia. Type in site and with no space follow with web address, domain, or country code. After the address, domain, or country code put in a space and the key word. Perhaps you want iPad information only from apple… Site Example: site:www.apple.com ipad … Return example … Domain Example: site:gov earthquake … Return Example …  County Example: site:ru “moon race… Return Example

FILETYPE – Looking for a great power point, pdf, or word doc. Perhaps a spreadsheet would be helpful. You may need to look up some suffixes to use. Type in the word filetype: and with no spaces put the suffix (in my example I used xls for excel), put in  space and follow with a search term. I have a list for suffixes linked here… Example: filetype:xls h1n1 … Return example

RELATED – Ever find a great site and you want to see if there is more like it. Just type in the word related: and follow with no space and then the web address. You will find an assortment of related pages… Example: related:www.apple.com … Return Example

INFO – Want more information about a site that you like. Interested in cached versions, links to the site, links from the site, other web pages that are simular to, and other places the web site is mentioned on the internet. A great tool for evaluating a web site. All you do is type in the word info: and then follow it with no space, and the web address of the site you wish to know more about… Example: info:www.ted.org … Return Example

CALCULATOR – To use Google’s built-in calculator function, simply enter the calculation you’d like done into the search box. It even follows the order of operation… Example: 10+9*10 (It multiplies first the adds) … Return Example

SYNONYMS – As mentioned earlier, if you want to search  for your search term and  also for its synonyms, place the tilde sign (~) immediately in front of your search term (no space)… Example: ~city … Return example

DEFINITIONS – To see a definition for a word or phrase,  type the word “define” then a space, then the word(s) you want defined. To see a list of different definitions from various online sources, you can type “define:” followed by a word or phrase. Note that the results will define the entire phrase… Example: define: computer … Return example

SPELL – Google’s spell checking software automatically checks whether your submission uses the most common spelling of a given word. If Google  thinks you’re likely to generate better results with an alternative spelling, it will ask “Did you mean: (more common spelling)?”. Click the suggested spelling to launch a Google search for that term. Example: pikture … Return example

MEASUREMENT – To use measurement converter put in the measurement you want to convert followed by word to, and then enter desired unit… Example: convert 5280 ft to mi … Return example.

WEATHER – To see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type “weather” followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country… Example: weather “fort wayne” in or weather 46814 or weather “fort wayne” usa … Return Example

STOCKS – To see current market data for a given company or fund, type the ticker symbol into the search box. On the results page, you can click the link to see more data from Google Finance… Example: aapl … Return Example

TIME – To see the time in many cities around the world, type in “time” and the name of the city(Note also sunrise/sunset)… Example:  time “fort wayne” …  Return Example

SPORTS – To see scores and schedules for sports teams type the team name or league name into the search box. This is enabled for many leagues including the National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball… Example: national basketball association … Return Example

LOCAL – When  looking for a store, restaurant, or other local business search for the category of business and the location and Google will  return results right on that page, along with a map, reviews, and contact information. You may have to scroll down to find the local listings in the search returns… Example walmart… Return example

MOVIES – To find reviews and showtimes for movies playing near you, type “movies” or the name of a current film into the Google search box. If you’ve already saved your location on previous search, the top search result will display showtimes for nearby theaters for the movie you’ve chosen, if not enter new location… Example: movie: “diary of a wimpy kid” … Return example

DISEASE  – To see information about a common disease or symptom, enter it into the search box and Google will return the beginning of an expert summary. Click through and read the entire article in Google Health… Example: measles… Return example

FLIGHTS – To see flight status for arriving and departing U.S. flights, type in the name of the airline (abrv work) and the flight number into the search box. You can also see delays at a specific airport by typing in the name of the city or three-letter airport code followed by the word “airport”… Example: austin airport … Return example

PATENTS To get information on patents – enter the word “patent” followed by the patent number into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button… Example: patent 1773980 … Return example

AREA CODE LOCATION – to see the geographical location for any U.S. telephone area code, just type the three-digit area code into the Google search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button… Example 260… Return example

David Kapuler Web 2.0 for educators

I’m a huge advocate of Web 2.0 in general, and social networking in particular. Here are my favorite networks for education that targets technology literacy.

1.  Twitter – Far and away one of the most popular social networks around. This micro-tweeting platform is used worldwide and especially in education (search hash tags, edchat or edtech).
2.  Classroom 2.0 – Created by Steve Hargadon and used by thousands of educators on a daily basis. This site alone changed the way I viewed education and ignited my passion for Web 2.0.
3.  Facebook -nuff said!!
4.  Plurk – A social network similar to Twitter with a timeline view and fun karma-based platform.
5.  Educator’s PLN – Built by Thomas Whitby, this social network is one of the fastest growing around and some of the top technology based innovators can be found here.
6.  Learn Central – Sponsored by elluminate, Learn Central is an ideal place for educators to host or learn through its virtual conferences.
7.  ISTE Community – International Society for Technology & Education is a great place for educators to collaborate on technology issues.
8.  Edutopia – A very popular organization created by the George Lucas foundation.
9.  Collaborative Translation – Created by well renowned educator James O’Reilly, CT is a great place to learn and share innovative ideas.
10.  IT4ALL – Integrating Technology 4 Active Life-Long Learners is a nice place for educators to share best practices for technology integration.

David Kapuler was the media and technology specialist at Greendale (Wis.) School District. Read his blog at cyber-kap.blogspot.com.

Comments on Tony Wagners “The Global Achievement Gap

I have just received a book that the SAU purchased in the hopes, I imagine, of contributing to my evolution as an effective educator. I have not read the book yet but the blurb on the back cover was enough to get my intellectual juices flowing. The book is called “The Global Achievement Gap” by Tony Wagner. On one level, I ordered this book in the hopes that it might help me understand why we, in the American School System, justify so much testing and standardization. Instead, Mr. Wagner appears to be yet another proponent of what is becoming recognized as a new movement in 21st Century education. Everything I have absorbed from a myriad of books, blogs, magazine articles, TV shows, interviews, and keynote speakers indicates that tomorrow’s survival skills are not to be found in nineteenth century educational practices. Even in those days, voices such as John Dewey encouraged project based learning that encouraged students to be active researchers, not receptacles of the teacher’s assumed knowledge and wisdom. “Dewey was a relentless campaigner for reform of education, pointing out that the authoritarian strict, pre-ordained knowledge approach of modern traditional education was too concerned with delivering knowledge, and not enough with understanding students’ actual experiences.” (Neil, J. (2005) “John Dewey, the Modern Father of Experiential Education” )

So I had to ask myself, am I truly providing my students with Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills for Teens Today? Forgetting that my prejudice is that technology must play an important part in helping students acquire these skills, I wonder whether we are not short changing our future citizens when we don’t pay attention to what is a recurrent message from the experts. Education should not be a matter of merely accumulating knowledge. We can find the answer to just about everything on a computer or, for that matter, on an iPhone. Higher order thinking skills are essential to success in our incredibly fast changing world. Whether we like or approve of this future is irrelevant. It is here and we and our students need to know how to survive and thrive in it. The other reoccurring theme that I hear is that we, as teachers, have to model these skills in order to be effective educators.

Seven Survival Skills for Teens Today:

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
Agility and Adaptability
Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
Effective Oral and Written Communication
Accessing and Analyzing Information
Curiosity and Imagination

As Albert Einstein said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress and giving birth to evolution.”

Einstein would love google. Are we listening?

A John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Report on “The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age”

Key Findings

Steve Hargadon

From

A John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Report on

The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age”


Young people today are learning in new ways that are both collective and egalitarian.
They are contributing to Wikipedia, commenting on blogs, teaching themselves programming and figuring out work-arounds to online video games. They follow links embedded in articles to build a deeper understanding. They comment on papers and ideas in an interactive and immediate exchange ofideas. All these acts are collaborative and democratic, and all occur amid a worldwide community of voices.

Universities must recognize this new way of learning and adapt or risk becoming obsolete.
The university model of teaching and learning relies on a hierarchy of expertise, disciplinary divides, restricted admission to those considered worthy, and a focused, solitary area of expertise. However, with participatory learning and digital media, these conventional modes of authority break down.

Today’s learning is interactive and without walls.
Individuals learn anywhere, anytime, and with greater ease than ever before. Learning today blurs lines of expertise and tears down barriers to admission. While it has never been confined solely to the academy, today’s opportunities for independent learning have never been easier nor more diverse.

Ten Principles for Redesigning Learning Institutions


The authors offer ten principles that can guide universities and other institutions of learning in adapting to learning in a digital age. They focus on college-aged students, although the recommendations also apply generally for all age groups.

Self-learning: Today’s learners are self-learners. They browse, scan, follow links in mid-paragraph to related material. They look up information and follow new threads. They create their own paths to understanding.

Horizontal structures: Rather than top-down teaching and standardized curriculum, today’s learning is collaborative; learners multitask and work out solutions together on projects. Learning strategy shifts from a focus on information as such to learning to judge reliable information. It shifts from memorizing information to finding reliable sources. In short, it shifts from learning that to learning how.

From presumed authority to collective credibility: Reliance on the knowledge authorities or certified experts is no longer tenable amid the growing complexities of collaborative and interdisciplinary learning. A key challenge in collaborative environments will be fostering and managing levels of trust.

A de-centered pedagogy: To ban or limit collective knowledge sources such as Wikipedia in classrooms is to miss the importance of collaborative knowledge-making. Learning institutions should instead adopt a more inductive, collective pedagogy based on collective checking, inquisitive skepticism, and group assessment.

Networked learning: Learning has traditionally often assumed a winner-take-all competitive form rather than a cooperative form. One cooperates in a classroom only if it maximizes narrow self-interest. Networked learning, in contrast, is committed to a vision of the social that stresses cooperation, interactivity, mutual benefit, and social engagement. The power of ten working interactively will invariably outstrip the power of one looking to beat out the other nine.

Open source education: Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an ‘open source’ culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products.

Learning as connectivity and interactivity: Challenges in a networked learning environment are not an individual’s alone. Digital tools and software make working in isolation on a project unnecessary. Networking through file-sharing, data sharing, and seamless, instant communication is now possible.

Lifelong learning: The speed of change in this digital world requires individuals to learn anew, face novel conditions, and adapt at a record pace. Learning never ends. How we know has changed radically.

Learning institutions as mobilizing networks: Rather than thinking of learning institutions as a bundle of rules, regulations, and norms governing the actions within its structure, new institutions must begin to think of themselves as mobilizing networks. These institutions mobilize flexibility, interactivity, and outcomes. Issues of consideration in these institutions are ones of reliability and predictability alongside flexibility and innovation.

Flexible scalability and simulation: Learning institutions must be open to changing scale. Students may work in small groups on a specific topic or together in an open-ended and open-sourced contribution.

These ten principles, the authors argue, are the first steps in redesigning learning institutions to fit the new digital world. By assessing some of the institutional barriers to change, the authors hope to mobilize institutions to envision formal, higher education as part of a continuum of the networked world that students engage in online today.

To view the report online, visit: http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/chapters/Future_of_Learning.pdf

Thoughts on the Back Cover of Tony Wagner’s “The Global Achievement Gap” by Rick Davidson

I have just received a book that the SAU purchased in the hopes, I imagine, of contributing to my evolution as an effective educator. I have not read the book yet but the blurb on the back cover was enough to get my intellectual juices flowing. The book is called “The Global Achievement Gap” by Tony Wagner. On one level, I ordered this book in the hopes that it might help me understand why we, in the American School System, justify so much testing and standardization. Instead, Mr. Wagner appears to be yet another proponent of what is becoming recognized as a new movement in 21st Century education. Everything I have absorbed from a myriad of books, blogs, magazine articles, TV shows, interviews, and keynote speakers indicates that tomorrow’s survival skills are not to be found in nineteenth century educational practices. Even in those days, voices such as John Dewey encouraged project based learning that encouraged students to be active researchers, not receptacles of the teacher’s assumed knowledge and wisdom. “Dewey was a relentless campaigner for reform of education, pointing out that the authoritarian strict, pre-ordained knowledge approach of modern traditional education was too concerned with delivering knowledge, and not enough with understanding students’ actual experiences.” (Neil, J. (2005) “John Dewey, the Modern Father of Experiential Education” )

So I had to ask myself, am I truly providing my students with Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills for Teens Today? Forgetting that my prejudice is that technology must play an important part in helping students acquire these skills, I wonder whether we are not short changing our future citizens when we don’t pay attention to what is a recurrent message from the experts. Education should not be a matter of merely accumulating knowledge. We can find the answer to just about everything on a computer or, for that matter, on an iPhone. Higher order thinking skills are essential to success in our incredibly fast changing world. Whether we like or approve of this future is irrelevant. It is here and we and our students need to know how to survive and thrive in it. The other reoccurring theme that I hear is that we, as teachers, have to model these skills in order to be effective educators.

Seven Survival Skills for Teens Today:

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
Agility and Adaptability
Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
Effective Oral and Written Communication
Accessing and Analyzing Information
Curiosity and Imagination

As Albert Einstein said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress and giving birth to evolution.”

Einstein would love google. Are we listening?