I’m currently reading 21st Century Skills: Learning For Life In Our Times by Bernie Trilling & Charles Fadel. The book starts out with this four question exercise:
Here are my answers:
Question #1: 20 years ago, I was 17. I had just graduated high school and was off to Rosemont College with an electric word processor with a single sentence screen. Although we had a computer lab, students didn’t go there to write papers. We typed on word processors and wrote things out by hand. We had pay phones in the hallways instead of phones in our rooms. How did I ever survive without a constant line of communication?
20 years from now, the world will be a different place. I have seen so much change in the past 20 years regarding technology, that I cannot even begin to imagine that world in the future. I’m sure everyone will have a smartphone type handheld device and regular computers and laptops will be the dinosaur that my cool word processor had become.
Question #2: Students will need to be tech savvy, problem solvers, cooperative learners, travelers, multi lingual, creative, innovative, and be able to manipulate, sort, and filter an enormous amount of data.
Question #3: There are several learning experiences that I clearly remember. In first grade, the King Tut exhibit was coming to the United States. My teacher immersed us in everything King Tut. We read books, acted out plays, made costumes, and even made toilet paper mummies out of each other. Another was a science fair project in 7th grade. My parents were not the type to do my projects for me, so I was on my own. I loved being in control of my own learning and having choice in it. I didn’t want to do a typical baking soda volcano, so I rigged a pump that spewed spaghetti sauce out of it! I won 3rd place…all on my own.
Question #4: Wow. Learning would be a rich, dynamic experience…it would be what I strive for in my classroom every day. Students would be engaged in their learning..making choices, solving problems, and being leaders. I find it interesting that my most memorable learning experiences as a child were project based and integrated. I learned the most in these situations…I was engaged learning about King Tut and Volcanoes. I firmly believe that engagement is the key to true learning. Why? Because if you aren’t engaged in learning…are you really learning anything?
I think every parent, teacher, and administrator should ask themselves these four questions. I’m betting the old saying “…the way I was taught was good enough for me…I’m a successful person…” would be quickly squashed. Go ahead…remember that time you were truly engaged in school and ask yourself if that is how your students feel on a daily basis. If they don’t, then find that engagement key and unlock the door to true learning for you and your students.