I am a creature of habit. After another long day I lay down, flip open my Kindle, expecting to read the daily edition of the Times Colonist (a newspaper out of Victoria, BC that makes me feel connected to “home”) and much to my surprise the latest edition hasn’t download. I let this go for a few days thinking it will fix itself (aka “the do nothing plan”) which doesn’t work and I eventually caved in and called Amazon.
Amazon were fantastic and the customer service rep I was speaking to, let’s call her Sandra, (not her real name) was very friendly. However, as she started trouble-shooting I realized that she was going through an algorithm on her screen. Is your Kindle turned on? Yes. Are you connected to Wifi? Yes. And so on and so forth. Then it dawned on me … The “knowledge” component of the Amazon rep was actually just her computer terminal. Her “skill” was in being able to read the screen and talk like a human. Which got me to thinking …
When we ask “What do we want our students to know?” have we thought past the obvious and dug in deeper to re-frame the question as “What is worth knowing?”
21st century learning was a good catch phrase in 2001, full of hope and promise, but we have until 2100 until we can say 22nd century learning – and that’s a long time.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” (attributed to many people including Anthony Robbins, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, and even Mark Twain) – anyway not me.
So while reading, writing, and mathematics should and will remain the foundation upon which to build learning – what else will be critical for the success of our students in the future? Envision 20 years down the line … Which of the content, knowledge, and skills that we deem important today will remain so 20 years hence?
As educators we all know that time is a very finite resource and that we never seem to have enough of it, no matter how we slice it and dice it. Therefore, it is our responsibility to be as purposeful as we can with the time we are given today to prepare our students for the world they will be living in tomorrow.
I personally have more questions than answers, but at least I’m thinking about it. And since this post seems to be full of quotes, I will leave you with one more from my own father. Maybe he was a visionary after all …
“Everyone can look and see the mountain. The hard part is seeing what is on the other side of the mountain.” (Ruggero Lancia)
What are your thoughts?
September 24, 2017 at 10:26 pm
Your dad is a smart, smart man! Oh, how I wish it was easier to see what was on the other side of those mountains.
September 24, 2017 at 11:49 pm
Funny thing is you don’t realize until way later that parents do have some good advice to give their kids! Ah the wisdom of hindsight.
September 25, 2017 at 4:16 am
Now the question is – which part of this “new world” do we prepare our students for? Writing that algorithm? Figuring out that Amazon NEEDS that algorithm? Certainly not being the person reading that algorithm?
September 25, 2017 at 12:43 pm
An excellent post, Alex, and I love the quote from your father! I had a similar thought last year dealing with an airline employee. There’s two aspects to your service representative’s interaction: one is that critical thinking and analytical thought are skills that should be a key part of any education, but the other is that poor Sandra may not have been allowed to deviate from the script. In the name of “quality control” and “data-driven” work, employees are increasingly told what they must do and what they cannot do. This affects service representatives as well as other fields – including teachers!