Are You Holding Back Your 21st Century Learners?

I am going to begin this blog by appologizing to all that I am about to offend.  Sadly if you’re offended, maybe it’s time to take a look at your teaching practices and beliefs.  If you’re not offended, but jumping up and down in your chair saying, “Yes! It’s about time,” this blog is not written for you in the first place.  All that to say, read on, reflect, and take stock in your technology usage in preparing for and in educating our students for their future.

Let us begin with a quote from the Fischbowl:

“In order to teach it, we have to do it. How can we teach this to kids, how can
we model it, if we aren’t literate ourselves? You need to experience this, you
need to explore right along with your students. You need to experience the tools
they’ll be using in the 21st century, developing your own networks in parallel
with your students. You need to demonstrate continual learning, lifelong
learning – for your students, or you will continue to teach your students how to
be successful in an age that no longer exists.”

I sat in a curriculum meeting filled with a majority of tech savvy educators last week.  I was intently listening to those educators discuss the possibility of adopting a set of K-12 technology skills for students.  They were a passionate group and seemed to feel that such a required list of grade appropriate skills was long overdue, and then the brake pedal came slamming down.  How can we make this recommendation when not all of our teachers can do all of these skills? SCREECH!!!!!

Was this really a valid argument for not proposing a skill set that would surely better prepare students for future employment and productivity as a citizen in the future?  Or was it the fear of the unknown that lead this group to question their enthusiasm over this set of skills?

When, as an educator, is it ever acceptable to not learn, keep learning, the latest and greatest tricks for your teacher toolkits?  When we don’t know how to teach a new math or reading concept, is it acceptable to say no thanks?  I don’t know how to do this, or I am not comfortable with this new concept.  No!  So why is it okay or not frowned upon when educators brush technology to the side?  Isn’t it needed in today’s society?

  • How do we get money? We pull up to an ATM.
  • How do we pay bills? Online w/ a credit card 
  • How do we share photos? We post them online.
  • How do we communicate? online, via social networks, through email, Skype, Facetime, Etc.
  • Where do we find information? The worldwide web

It’s time to accept the fact that technology is here to stay and has a purpose in enabling our students to create, apply, and extend their learning through its integration into the existing curriculum.  It’s not an add on, it’s a vehicle to get the job done.

One last tidbit to chew on; if you don’t know how to drive do you get a pass and not have to travel anywhere throughout your life?  Would you accept or want that for your children/students?  No!  You’d learn to drive, take lessons, or find an alternative means (public transportation, a bike, or Mom and Dad) but you’d get the job done.

Computers have been employed in classrooms since the late 70’s, early 80’s depending on your district’s ability to fund them.  It is high time that teachers stop fearing the unknown and start embracing the change that has already passed them by.  It is not okay to model fear of technology to a group of students who will never know a life without it.

I remember watching my grandmother struggle with the concept of pulling up to the ATM, paying for groceries with a plastic card, or pumping her own gasoline.  She was 70+ years old, retired, and in the golden years of her life when these changes became impossible to ignore.  She didn’t bury her head in the sand and say it’s too hard, it’s only fun when it works, or it’s too confusing.  She dove in and learned.  If Gram could do it at 70+, then educators in the prime of their careers certainly can and should embrace technology in their classrooms.

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About bulldogtechteach

I am a technology integrator serving in a k-1 and a 2-5 elementary building. I firmly believe in the power of technology to engage students and allow them to create and master their learning.
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