PLN Education Blog
My journey of learning digital literacy, establishing a personal learning network, and becoming a qualified 21st century teacher.
After reading the essay "Why School?" by Will Richardson, I had to really take time and process how I felt about what I had just read. There is not doubt in my mind that there needs to be a change to the education system as it currently stands. In all honesty I see value in both types of school reform that were presented in the book, but would more strongly align myself with the first type of reform that was presented. While this might not be the most popular stance to take, as it is aligned with politicians and businessmen, I feel as though there is so much inequity in schools as they are now to be able to fully endorse the more individualized and creative reform model. As I see it there are still millions of students without access to internet in their homes, and so many more that lack the most updated technology in their schools. Without tackling these issues, it is impossible to make education truly an equal playing field for all. Richardson (2012) points out that is we look at the standardized test scores of just the upper-class in America, we are performing number one in the world.
This is not to say that I agree that standardized testing, or testing in general, are the best methods of instruction. But right now, rather than focusing on the individual child's learning desires, and allowing them to pursue education by finding their passion, I think we would be better served teaching are students how to become successful in the world right now. If we can change the job prospects of those who are impoverished in our nation, then we might truly be able to transform the education system. There are currently too many of our students concerned about where their next meal will come from, or where they will be staying the night for the next couple of months to be invested in the type of educational system that Richardson outlines in the second half of the essay. It is my firm belief that education is the only way to have a truly equitable society, but I fear that the second type of reform lends itself well to middle or upper class America, and could further create a gap between the classes. Certainly, I understand that all students can look up most of the information in textbooks online, and that often times textbooks are outdated. What I cannot wholeheartedly endorse is the idea that students have no need for learning dates, or that the internet is the answer for finding information. Dates have a purpose. Maybe students do not need to know the date of all wars that ever occurred, but I do think it is important that they know how far (or for that matter not so far) we are removed from some extremely significant events, i.e. The Civil War or the Civil Rights Movement.
Now that being said, I definitely agree that students need to improve critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills (Richardson, 2012). This is one area that I am extremely passionate about. As a future science teacher I would rather give my students articles about new research and discovery, rather than a cumbersome textbooks, that are outdated because the latest research takes years to be publish and even more time to reach a textbook. In this way I would also be constantly learning along with my students and modeling the behavior that I hope I would be able to instill in them. Along the same line I would ensure that I would be a master learner, forever improving and moving forward as our would progresses at such a rapid rate. Plus I want to make sure that I am constantly learning from my students, they are full of ideas and hold a different perspective than I might have and can open my mind to a different way of thinking. Ultimately I want to be a good role model for my students, particularly with regards to learning, and that to me is the most important change that I can make to the current system. I am not an authoritarian, but the person they can look to for guidance in this rapidly changing world.
On the flip-side, as much as we are a connected world, I think that I would struggle being so connected. I am a very private person, and like the anonymity that I currently have in the online would. So while I hope to share with my fellow colleagues, I do not think I would be comfortable becoming a part of this greater online network, or be comfortable talking to strangers. In no way do I mean to be close-minded, but these are areas that are very unauthentic to who I am as a person, and if nothing more students respond to authenticity. Also, I don't know that I could just transfer the power of learning to my students. If students are allowed to only learn subjects that are of interest to them, I feel we are doing them a disservice. Even people who work for themselves, or have their dream job, have boxes they need to check and days that are less than terrific. If we allow students to just explore what they are interested in, how will they be equipped to handle the world that adults must navigate? More importantly, while the internet does hold almost all of human knowledge, finding the good and reputable knowledge can be a painstaking process, not this everything is at the tip of your fingers internet described in the essay. In the end, I understand that what we currently are doing for the education of our children is not the best at serving their needs, I am not sure that I can fully jump on board with all that was presented by Richardson (2012).
Richardson, W. (2012). Why School: How Education Must Change when Learning and Information are Everywhere. TED Conferences. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com