Friday, December 30, 2011

What's the Purpose?

Last summer, the following tweet caught my attention:

"What's the purpose of school when all the content is available online? How do we make the time meaningful?"

These are worthy, powerful questions. What exactly is the value of public education in the instant-access world of our increasingly digital 21st century?

Here are a few of the high-impact skills and habits of mind that I believe we must teach and nurture in our classrooms (no matter what the content) so that our students can be successful and flexible lifelong learners:
  • how to access content efficiently using an array of digital tools (Google, Siri, YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.)
  • how to identify and access primary source content effectively (in science: NASA, NOAA, USGS, etc.)
  • how to produce compelling content in a variety of analog and digital formats (infographics, multimedia presentations, etc.) 
  • how to leverage creativity so that students can express their learning in meaningful and multi-faceted ways
  • how to think independently/interdependently so that students can ask their own questions and pursue their own interests
In this rapidly evolving world, we have no idea exactly what kinds of opportunities will be available to our students when they graduate. Our main focus should be helping students to become active producers of knowledge and value—not just passive consumers of information—so that they can become nimble and flexible contributors to society. Otherwise, we're probably irrelevant and detrimental to their future.

Let's strive to make 2012 relevant and meaningful for our students...

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