There is no secret that education is currently experiencing the largest disruption it has seen in the last 60 years. In the laundry list of buzzwords we hear today, we most often hear the term 21st Century Learning. I use this a lot, and yet I wonder why? We are almost 17% done with the 21st Century, so why are we still using this term? I believe that question is the true source of a lot of the current disruption in education. As a school system, it is important we stay true to our mission and what we believe. At the same time, we have to find the best path of educating our students for success moving forward.
The above video features a TedX talk from a teacher from New Mexico, Kevin Gant. If you are on Twitter, you can follow him here. The focus of his talk is based on three things that can make the greatest impact on our students education. They are:
- The way we teach
- The culture we build
- The tools we offer our students
Let’s focus on each of these elements individually.
The Way We Teach:
Inquiry based teaching methods (such as Project or Problem Based Learning, more commonly referred to as PBL) are slowly becoming the norm in education. These teaching methods empower students to become self-motivated learners. A self-motivated learner becomes an incredible problem-solver and thinker. These are the people that are highly sought after in industry today.
The positive to take from this situation is there are so many wonderful examples of the power of inquiry based learning that it is getting harder and harder to find a reason not to employ it as an instructional strategy. It truly just makes sense.
The Culture We Build:
As a person who has only been in public education before coming to LCSS, I can tell you that one of the most impressive things I can see about our schools is the culture. The relationships our teachers and administrators build with their students is hard to match. Not a day goes by that I am not amazed by the sheer number of students who willingly stay after school to work with their teachers.
We must continue to extend this culture by empowering our students to take charge of their learning. Hopefully the questions they ask continue to focus more on drawing correlations in content and a desire to know more about that content. This type of questioning is radically different from questions that ultimately just want to know “how do I get an A?”
The Tools That We Offer Our Students
“We give them the computer as a tool, not as a toy, and certainly, not as a teacher.”
I love this quote from Kevin Gant. It is truly the focus of technology in the classroom.
One of the great education leaders of our time, Chris Lehman, says technology should be “ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” This sums up any school using a form of inquiry based learning. It’s not about the technology, but at the same time, it wouldn’t work without the technology.
It is a busy, stressful, and exciting time in education. Empowering students to become self-motivated, lifelong learners is something we all want. I’m excited to be apart of this journey with all of you!