Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Future Learning...

Currently the staff at the ILC is reading through the book "Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess. A must read if you have forgotten about your passion and purpose in education. 

During yesterdays book talk after school our Director (Brent Wise...who kind of resembles Jake form the Neverland Pirates animation) shared with us an amazing video that challenges what the future of education holds. It was titled Future Learning:


This video brings to light many concepts that are outdated with the current state of education. It brings together numerous thoughts from some of today's most innovative thinkers and pushes you to think about where we are going as educators. Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, in summary states that education today has only taught students how to sit, be quiet, and take it for 45 minutes while not being engaged in the learning process. My Co-teacher (Cathy Gongwer @cathygongwer) and I decided to take some time to show the video to our Academy EDU class. After all, who better to bounce ideas off of than future teachers themselves. We then held a brief Q & A session to get their perspective on the Future of Education. To the best of my ability here is a list of some ideas and thoughts they generated:

  • Core Schedule dictates too much- High Schools are too rigid with core academic classes and scheduling. Students are missing out on electives that they want to take because their schedule does not allow them the flexibility to do so. Some express the redundancy from one year to the next and the need to fast track some core classes. 
  • Flip it- Lectures are good but not while sitting in class for 45 minutes. Flip the classroom....videotape or record lectures so students can watch them for homework. Then use class time to practice concepts while teachers are able to interact and move about the class. Building the student teacher relationship and strengthing student owneership in the class. 
  • Voice-n-choice- Students should have choice in what they want to learn daily. Example given: If a student is solid in Math and only needs it 2-3 times a week to master it then let that student work on other subjects or passion projects the other days. Why make them sit through class daily if they could do it in less time? Give them the choice and allow teachers to act more as guides and mentors.
  • Hybrid-High School- This one really caught my attention. Students should have the flexibility to take some-part-or all of their classes online and work at their own pace. Students can then set benchmarks/checkpoints with their teachers as they progress through the year. During the school day half of their day would be spent working online or with selected core teachers on concepts they are having trouble with. If they can prove mastery on certain subjects then great! The other half of their day becomes project/ elective based. Students could choose to work on projects that make a difference in their community or on a bigger scale....the world. They could then have more time to take elective courses that they truly want to be in and possibly explore their passions. 
  • School Environment- Students want the ability to move about while learning. Why should they be isolated to a certain room every period? Create a culture in schools where students have the ability to work independently in quiet rooms, collaboratively in functional collaborative spaces, in unique labs for hands on experiences, etc. No bells are needed to herd them around like cattle. Have a designated wing where teachers specialize in core curriculum classes and students can seek help as they need it. 
I am sure I did not do all of their thoughts and ideas justice but these were a few that really stood out. Yes, I know logistically some are thinking this is impossible or are you thinking (as I am) why aren't we doing this! Understand that these ideas came from students. The ones that are sitting in your classrooms daily and they are screaming out they want change! They verbally admit that the current state of education is squashing their creativity and the way they process information. We can not continue to go down the same tracks expecting our destinaitons to change. How can we as current educators pave the way for Future Learning?

Please share this with others that want to make our system more meaningful and engaging for the future. Leave a comment with your own ideas about the future of learning or give some new perspective to think about.