Through the mystery of Twitter I engaged in an interesting conversation with Daniel Edwards aka @syded06, who asked the question, “Why do educators sometimes seem at odds with colleagues when they all want the same thing – the best for their students?” This was to no one in particular but I responded.
As a consequence of our short twitter chat Daniel pointed me in the direction of a blog written by John Tomsett, a Headteacher in York, which is well worth reading. You might also want to follow him on Twitter at @johntomsett.
I, in turn, pointed Daniel to a book that inspired me as a Headteacher. It’s called, ‘The Big Picture – Education Is Everyone’s Business’ by Dennis Littky. Early on in the book he talks about the ‘Real Goals of Education’ - these describe how he would like his students to be once they have left his school. He wants them to:
- be lifelong learners
- be passionate
- be ready to take risks
- be able to problem-solve and think critically
- be able to look at things differently
- to be able to work independently and with others
- be creative
- care and want to give back to their community
- have integrity and self-respect
- have moral courage
- be able to use the world around them well
- speak well, write well, read well and work well with numbers
- truly enjoy their life and their work
A great list – but how many of these worthwhile attributes can we measure in a standardised test? Thankfully very few. How many of them would we, as educators and parents want our children to acquire? Hopefully all of them.
What are your ‘real’ educational goals?
When the new school year started a few weeks ago many children in our primary schools were given a new pen, a pencil, a ruler and an assortment of exercise books. All of these deemed to be the essential tools the children would need for the coming years learning journey. How many, I wonder, were also given an iPod Touch? Or even given an iPod Touch instead of the pen, ruler and exercise books? When I started primary school in 1955 pen and paper were the tools of the day. Is this still the case today? Are they the tools we adults use in our daily lives and jobs?
So why not give each class of youngsters an iPod Touch. ‘Hang on a minute’, is the cry I can hear coming from many teachers, ‘That’s easier said than done. Have you thought about the cost and then there’s the problem of them getting broken and what about ……’ and so the excuses begin to tumble out. One problem, though rarely mentioned, is the fact that these devices scare so many of our teachers. They don’t know what to do with them and what’s worse they know the children probably do!
So, instead of giving all the children an iPod Touch, why don’t we start by giving all of our teachers one? Let them discover for themselves the power of this learning tool and the myriad of apps that go with it. Give them time to play and learn. They can then share their issues, their successes, their discoveries safely with one another. Then, when they are ready, start to involve the children. Teachers are, after all, learners as well and this learning tool will help them on their own learning journey.
There are a number of teachers and schools, across the whorl, taking this bold step. Have a look at Tony Vincent’s great list of ‘Dos’ & ‘Don’ts’ with regard to classroom sets of iPod Touches. Much of this advice would work well for a staff set of these devices. A great blog called, ‘I Teach Therefore I Pod’ by a teacher called Harry Walker is well worth looking at. Or you might want to look at an online community of teachers/schools using iPod Touches in which case visit, ‘The iPod Touch Classroom’. If you have now decided you fancy having a go with an iPod Touch here are some educational apps to get you going.
We live in a world where knowledge is at our fingertips. If you have a question – ask Google. What did we do before Google? For me, as a child in the 1950′s and 60′s, my teacher was my ‘Google’. It was the teacher who had the knowledge and we went to school to learn from them. My access to knowledge at home was limited to a very cheap children’s encyclopaedia, which soon became out of date.
The role of teachers today needs to change – they are no longer the ‘wise guardians of knowledge’. In the world we live in, information is easily accessible through a myriad of technological devices.
The following Infographic shows what happens on the web every 60 seconds!
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers
Anthony Chivetta, a High School Student in Missouri, is credited with saying’
“The need to know the capital of Florida died when my phone learned the answer. The students of tomorrow need to be able to think creatively; they will need to learn on their own, adapt to new challenges and innovate on-the-fly.”
Have you ever considered just how much ‘your phone knows’?
Teachers today have to be guides, showing children where the information they want can be found, but more importantly how they can navigate their way through the wealth of data out there to ensure relevance and accuracy.
It is time to rethink the role of the teacher in the classroom and this will inevitably make us re-think the role of learning.
- Nimble & versatile to see relationships among things, in addition to subtle distinctions between them.
- Patient enough to doubt and ask questions.
- Fond of reflecting.
- Slow to assert and ready to consider multiple points of view.
- Careful to support their points of view and to formulate an argument with reasons and evidence.
- A slave neither to passing trends nor to established traditions but capable of judging the credibility of sources and making independent judgements about information.
- Alert to all deception.
Do you think that these ‘habits of mind’ are as essential in 2012 as they were in 1605? What do you believe are the important skills needed to develop critical thinking in 21st Century learners?
Apparently on Christmas Day there were more than 17.4 new iOS and Android devices activated. On Christmas Day 2011 there were 6.8 million device applications. At the same time there were 328 million app downloads on Christmas Day. This information is taken from the ‘Flurry Blog’ who reckon that:
Looking forward to 2013, Flurry expects the trend of one billion download weeks to become the norm, and that the industry will surpass the two billion download week during the latter part of the year.
I wonder how many of these devices Santa delivered to our children? Many of the children in our schools will have access to sophisticated technology while at home but not at school. Who will be teaching them how to use this technology to get the most from them? Who will be advising them on the best apps to enhance their learning?
“We are not going to build better learning for our children; we are going to build it with our children.” Stephen Heppell