Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Common Goal

I am in the process of reading Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education (Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli). Either before or after reading, I spend some time reviewing my notes and highlights. As I scrolled through my archive, I was thinking about how commentary from the book could support numerous presentations being considered for the opening of school in September.

In thinking about the upcoming school year, this excerpt from Personal Learning Networks is worth sharing. Richardson and Mancabelli promote the need for schools to invest time and money towards establishing 1:1 learning environments and to see that teachers and students are actively building personal learning networks. The excerpt is issued to those who would challenge the pressing need to establish global classrooms.

The environment they are struggling to manage is the same one students are going to experience each day when they go to work in their adult lives. Students will need to participate in these learning networks to stay on top of their fields of interest and to advance in their careers. If we don’t teach them how to navigate these messy environments in our schools, if we instead teach them to learn from a book in chapters and to expect an “end,” then they will be ill equipped to participate in the most powerful learning available to them during their lifetimes.

I see this quote as a not so gentle reminder of what a mission for all schools should be. We need to prepare students for the professional world they will enter and arm them with the skills and dispositions to make a positive impact on a complex global community.

As we approach September, all educators are challenged to think about how they can better prepare kids to successfully meet the demands of the 21st Century. In doing so, it is impossible to ignore that a redesign of schools and our classrooms is required. What we value has to be a reflection of the world that exists outside of school.