It’s Not just about Motivation

Where I’m headed today

I’m at the airport again, way earlier than usual — and I think that the security folks have been taking “be nice” courses.  They’re friendly, engaging, and asking question, such as, “How do you like that brand of underwear.”  Just kidding.  But I had a great conversation with a young woman in blue about where to get Breathsaver mints in bulk.

I was just scanning through tweets for the first time in days and ran across some RTs of something I tweeted last week,

I tire of hearing people say, ‘We integrated technology because it’s what kids use outside of school.'” 

I realize now it wasn’t the sort of thing that can be properly expressed in <140 characters.

It is not a bad reason integrate technology — to motivate learners with more familiar information experiences.  But what bothers me is that it appears to ignore the greatest and most critical reason — that an increasingly connected, technology-rich, information-driven, and rapidly changing world alters the “what” and “how” of education.

We are no longer preparing children with the skills and knowledge that they will need for all of the rest of their years.  In my father’s time, it was common to graduate from high school (or not), take a job, and do that job for the next 35 or 40 years, retire, and live another 10 years.  Expectations were not much different when I graduated from high school almost 40 years ago.

But today, I suspect that much of what we teach won’t remain valid for five years after graduation — and that may be a generous statement. 

Our focus should not be on using technology to make our students easier to teach.  It should be on crafting learning experiences, within networked, digital, and information-abundant learning environments, where students are learning to teach themselves, and begin to cultivate a mutually common cultural and environmental context for for their lives.

Without contemporary tools and contemporary information environments — all we can do is continue to prepare our children for the 1950s — no matter how many hours they’re in school every day.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.