Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thinking About 21st Century Learning and Schools

I am currently taking a class that is a year-long commitment - it is sponsored by the smart folks at PLP. Throughout this year, I am reflecting with people all over the country online and in webinars, as well as with my own school cohort.

To prepare for our webinar next week, we have been asked to reflect on an article titled, "Preparing Students and Schools for a Radically Different Future: Ten Trends Will Help Determine Education's Role in the 21st Century." The article was written for USA Today by Gary Marx in March, 2002.

This entire article spoke to me in many ways, but I was probably most drawn to Trend #3 (social and intellectual capital will become the primary economic value in society) and Trend #8 (knowledge creation and breakthrough thinking will stir a new era of enlightenment).

The concept of how important social and intellectual capital is rings quite true for me for a variety of reasons:
  • The idea of collaboration and working in teams - when I look at our work here at PLP, I look at my thinking/conversations/learning with like-minded people recently at NCTE, and how I continually seek out others who are going to help me push my own thinking (and hopefully push their thinking as well) - these are the factors that make me realize how important collaboration is.
  • Using a variety of tech tools - just this morning, I read Franki Sibberson's final reflection on her web 2.0 librarian class. I'm going to need to come back to it multiple times, but my initial thinking is wow! I especially loved how she has now synthesized her thinking about these tools in a way that makes sense for her school - she and her principal have created an amazing plan for their school.
  • This trend also talks about making sure our students leave school with the ability for critical and creative thinking, as well as high levels of curiosity and persistence. So many times, with my own daughters, I watched them play the game of school - memorizing what they needed (I'm actually cringing a little as I write this since I just asked my students to memorize the 50 states because that is a standard), doing homework (that's an entire article in itself), but not having critical skills. I look at what my oldest daughter is required to do now, as a young adult, in her job at a PR firm, and it's all about critical thinking and problem solving and collaboration. How then, can we as educators, do a better job with this?
In Trend #8, the idea of knowledge creation and breakthrough thinking stirring a new area of enlightenment, I was struck by the phrase Marx mentioned, "Does what we learned today trigger any new ideas for you?" One of my cohort members remarked that question could profoundly change the learning of whatever group with which you were learning (students or adults). What a powerful statement!

Today, I also read this thought-provoking article about the purpose of daily lesson plans - the author questions why we aren't planning more globally. It really made me think of this trend as well.

How can we help students make connections across curricular areas to bigger thinking? It makes me think of the work Samantha Bennett is doing in Colorado - a big focus question guides all the learning for part of the year. Learning was far more global and designed to make the students more thoughtful citizens of the world in which they live. I'm sure the planning for that kind of learning is immense, but in education, our goal is to help students be life-long learners, so maybe it's worth the time investment. The only thing I would have to ponder for a while is how I could incorporate my strong belief in choice during workshop with a more global study like that. Most definitely food for thought...

So that is my off the cuff thinking about a very important article. Now I'm hoping you'll think along with me -- if the goals of web 2.0 tools are collaboration, communication, creation, and connecting , I would love to have you share your thinking about this post. We are most definitely smarter as a group!

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I miss you being next door to me so I could come over tomorrow morning and talk to you about your thinking. I miss that! Thanks for sharing through your blog!