Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The future of education?

I visited one of our schools this week. As I sat in a class it reminded me of the classes I had sat in when I was in high school.

The class was well organized. The discussion was good. Students seemed engaged. But I wondered if school could or should be more than what I was seeing.

After all, this is 2012. Should school continue to look like it did 40 years ago when I was in high school?

I know that students have different experiences on occasion but the majority of their experiences seem to be similar, if not identical, to the experiences that I had in high school.

I then went down the hall and talked with a teacher who told me about his attempts to encourage the use of technology with teachers in the building. The point of using technology was not to use technology but to facilitate teaching and learning opportunities with and for students in ways that would not be possible without the use of technology. He spoke of a teacher who was trying to create videos that students could watch at home and then he could use class time in other ways. In the current fashion this was the "flipped classroom" concept.

I then visited an advisory class. Here the principal was talking with students about the Khan Academy, an online tutorial site where they could get assistance in a variety of subjects.

I then looked at my iPhone and saw the Wolfram Alpha application. I can enter a formula and it will solve the formula for me.

All of this started me thinking about the future of school. Does school have to look like what it does today? Does school have to resemble what it looked like when I was young?

Part of me says school should look different. We have new technologies. Information is more readily available now than in the past. Yet classes look remarkably similar.

Is that because the teaching and learning relationship has to have a classroom setting that never changes? I would question that perspective. It seems to me that teaching and learning have to change based on the content, the context, and the goals of the learner.

Yet most of the classrooms I see have not changed dramatically since I was in school.

I am not sure what this means. But my visit today made me think about what school is like today and what it could or should be like tomorrow.

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