What’s worth learning? A big question I realise, and one that continues to perplex me in an age where we can find all of the information we need at the click of a button. It is easy to see why students are becoming disengaged in the classroom, with teaching practices that stem from our first real educational revolution of the eighteenth century still rife in the twenty-first century. We know the notion of education should change in our modern society, but we are yet to articulate successfully exactly what it takes to produce learners who are ‘future-proof’ and adequately prepared for a life of constant learning and change.
Crockett, Jukes and Churches articulate the disconnect between school and real life in their book ‘Literacy is Not Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age’ when they mention their experience with a school principal at an international educational conference describing his students who were top performers academically in the TIMS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study) as unable to, “think their way out of a wet paper bag if their life depended upon it. They’re nothing but highly educated useless people” (2011, loc 155). This example hits the nail on the head when it comes to describing the students we are creating in our current educational system full of standardised testing and ‘one-size-fits-all’ assessment. If we are to continue teaching our students to become dependent on knowing only what they need to pass a test, they will continue to struggle when they make the transition from school life to the real world of the twenty-first century where, “their success in work, life, and play will greatly depend on their ability to interpret and apply old information and new alike to new situations, problems and environments” (Crockett, et al., 2011, loc 205).
What concerns me is that the technological age has played a large role in driving the need for change in education, yet we have become complacent in thinking that simply handing students technology will make them twenty-first century learners. When we give students a device with Internet connection, we give them the possibility of becoming connected, participatory and personalised in their learning.
As is depicted in the picture to the left, the power of learning does not come from the device we are using. It comes when we guide our students in building the skills, understandings, competencies and knowledge they need to use these devices to enhance their learning.
So with this in mind, ‘what is worth learning?’ becomes an important question for us to answer as educators. What can we teach our students that will prepare them for successful life in the unknown, ever-changing world of infowhelm, where the technology we use and the contexts we work within today will be obsolete tomorrow? This is one question that started me on my journey in ‘Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age‘ and one that I hope to begin to answer through my learning in the course, so that I can best prepare my students for realistic, ‘future-proof’ learning.
In the video below John Seely Brown introduces the notion of the ‘entrepreneurial learner’ – one that constantly adopts and adapts their practices to learn in a world of change and unlimited possibilities.
Our role as educators is no longer to simply transfer our knowledge to our students, it involves guiding them through learning and knowledge building when they are constantly bombarded with new contexts, ideas, literacies, information, technology and skills. My goal as both a teacher-librarian and classroom teacher is to continue to adopt and adapt what I do for my own professional growth and the guidance of other teachers, and to provide the best learning experiences for students by embracing entrepreneurial learning.
In this course I hope to ‘go beyond’ in my own learning to understand what exactly is worth learning, and consequently worth teaching in the world of infowhelm. This will enable me to reimagine and reinvent the teaching and learning that happens in my classroom and provide realistic and future-proof experiences for each and every student I teach.
Class Room. [Photographer]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Literacy-NOT-Enough-Century-Fluencies-ebook/dp/B00NA1VQ1S/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1426395494
Elementary School Classroom. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
Elsom, J. [JasonElsom]. (2015, January 31). Finally.. books have had their time [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/KatSchrav/status/561269413685387265
Galuga, L. [lisegaluga]. (2014, August 12). Embracing the new age of search literacy! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/KatSchrav/status/499330149884522497
Seely Brown, J. (2012, September 18). The global one room schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (highlights from JSB’s keynote at DML2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM#action=share