Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Futuristic Vision for 21st Century Education

Are we preparing students for the 21st century?  Here is a thoughtful reflection on what our students need, courtesy of ASCD Express.

"The Information Revolution
At best, the current thinking about school reform gives only a token nod to the unprecedented access and connectedness that the Internet represents. Most educators are content to simply label this remarkable global portal as "technology"—just another tool. Even those who call for teachers to integrate technology into their daily practice imagine such reforms as incremental rather than transformative.
All of this ignores the shift triggered by web 2.0—a human revolution more profound than the shift from hunting to agriculture or the advent of printing and mass literacy. The emergence of a pervasive, collaborative, global virtual environment has changed forever what it means to be a good teacher, an effective school leader, or a well-educated 18-year-old.
There will be more information distributed in this year alone than there was in the last 5,000 years. Although some of it may be without much value, the pace of discovery and the volume of new information is mind-bending. When information was scarce, we went to school to gain access, and the locus of control for learning resided in those who possessed the knowledge, teachers and those who dictated the curriculum. Now information is abundant and easily accessed by anyone, anywhere with a web browser and Internet connection.
As educators, we need to realize that learning can now take place 24/7, with or without us, and that young people come to school knowing much more than we do in some areas. They have the potential to learn anything they want to learn at any time they want to learn it. Therefore, instead of focusing on the content, we really need to focus on what it means to be a learner and how to help students learn deeply and most effectively. We need to model metacognition and demonstrate the value of thinking about thinking. We need to lead them to think deeply and help them understand how to synthesize and analyze and to create—to operate in Bloom's realm of higher-order skills."

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