High Minded Ideas — Down to Earth

There has been a long exchange on the TechLearning Blog page, that began with my Letter from the Principal post, apologizing for failing to prepare children for the 21st century. I posted a second blog on TechLearning yesterday, posing several essential questions behind education reform.

T&L Blogerati, Terry Freedman commented on that post asking

…so what am I, the teacher in the classroom, supposed to actually do?

Here is how I responded at T&L, and I’m offering it here as well.

Thanks for the clarifying question, Terry. Often, my high minded (seems that way some times) ideas need grounding. It’s one thing that my wife is very good at.

What should the classroom teacher be doing now?

  • First of all, they should join the conversation, just like Cheryl says. They should start paying very close attention to the world they are teaching our children about and then start talking about it. They should start blogging and reading blogs. I could never adequately describe the learning curve I have ridden over the past 12 months since starting to read blogs, and to participate in the conversation.
  • Teachers must start looking for, and inventing, new stories. To much of what we do in our classrooms, curriculum meetings, standards committees, and board rooms, are based on old and outdated stories. Find the new stories and start telling the heck out of them to everyone, at every opportunity.
  • Start coming at things sideways.
    • We’re still teaching like it’s all our children will ever need to learn. We need to start helping students learn to teach themselves.
    • We’re coming out of an age of occupational security. So what’s the upside of less security? More opportunity. What do kids need to know to leverage and even create opportunity.
    • Second think literacy. What are the basic skills when information is increasingly networked, digital, and overwhelming, and what are the pencil and paper in that information environment.
    • Stop talking about integrating technology into the curriculum, and start talking about integrating the curriculum into an information-driven, technology-rich, rapidly changing world.
  • Find and craft new stories and tell them. To your class…”I read yesterday that at any given moment 2% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is in the back of a UPS truck. What do you think we, in our community, put on those trucks — or what do you think we might put on those trucks in the future?”

    To the public…”At some point, sooner than we believe, virtually all practical day to day information will be available digitally and through a network, and almost exclusively through digital technology. Anyone without convenient (at hand) access to a networked, digital device and the skills to use that device, may as well not know how to read. We’ve decided how important it is to learn to ready. How about the tech part?”

We need to be inventing new stories, sharing them, and telling them ALL THE TIME.

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.