Yesterday, I attended one of the last school open house events of this life time. My son is entering his senior year, and we’ll have one more open house at the beginning of the second semester.
First of all, I am overwhelmed at the (dare I say) rigor, of his work load. He’s taking AP Calculus, Honors English, Wind Ensemble (performing college and professional grade music), and AP Statistics. On top of that, he continues to practice his instrument in order to become one of the best musicians in the world — which is what it will take to make a living at it.
But what impressed me even more was the help that he will have in accomplishing these high standard of learning, his teachers. In what I do, speaking to educators about technology, the future, and new literacies, I typically see them as learners struggling with brand new ideas that simultaneously excite and threaten them. I easily forget how accomplished teachers are, their vast knowledge, their incredible creativity, and the joy they project in their jobs.
English was never my favorite subject. We read books, and our teachers told us what to think about them. My son’s English teacher, talked about the books that he is and will be reading, and the writing assignments he gets. I asked her to share some examples of the topics they were asked to write about. She went through about five, but what set my head to spinning was that every assignment was tied in some logical and intriguing way to another assignment, which was tied to three others. This teacher’s curriculum is a web of ideas linked to the great thinkers and writers of our history, to the world around us right now, and to the emerging ideas of these 17 and 18 year old students.
And you know what? She never mentioned technology. Well, that’s not entirely true. I learned a lot last night about the creative ways that you can integrate paper into the learning experience. 😉