Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why School? How Education Must Change

Sharing a few highlights from Why School?  How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere (Richardson).

Today, if we have an Internet connection, we have fingertip, on-demand access to an amazing library that holds close to the sum of human knowledge and, equally important, to more than two billion people with whom we can potentially learn

Based on existing trends, some now predict the year 2020 will see 65 to 70 million freelancers, consultants, and independent workers representing more than half of all U.S. employees. That’s four times the number today.

This narrative focuses on preparing students to be learners, above all, who can successfully wield the abundance at their fingertips... Instead, it’s about asking questions, working with others to find the answers, doing real work for real audiences, and adding to, not simply taking from, the storehouse of knowledge that the Web is becoming.

It’s not “do your own work,” so much as “do work with others, and make it work that matters.”

In other words, let’s scrap open-book tests, zoom past open-phone tests asking Googleable questions, and advance to open-network tests that measure not just if kids answer a question well, but how literate they are at discerning good information from bad and tapping into the experts and networks that can inform those answers.

Herbert Gerjuoy predicts that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write. The illiterate will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

One of the challenges I give the schools I work with is this: “How can you make sure that every student who walks on graduation day is well Googled by his or her full name?” At first blush, this question is somewhat disconcerting to them. But after they let it settle, most realize that if we really want our kids to make the most of the connections and opportunities they’ll have online once they leave us (and we should want that, by the way), we have to help them. Just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best simply isn’t good enough — and I hope that any parent would agree.

Tony Wagner recently said, “There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”

times of great abundance, however, what our children really need are master learners with enough content expertise to help them discover the curriculum. The adults in the room have to be skilled and literate by those 21st-century standards the NCTE is touting. And they have to exhibit the dispositions that will sustain their learning: persistence, empathy, passion, sharing, collaboration, creativity, and curiosity.

That the reason they’re doing their schoolwork isn’t just for a grade or for it to be pinned up in the hallway? It should be because their work is something they create on their own, or with others, that has real value in the real world.