One Thing We Know About The Future
Great points from education writer and consultant Nancy Flanagan (hat tip to Dan Willingham for highlighting it):
“I just finished The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age, certainly the most useful book I’ve read lately on how to cope with what might be ahead in education. Whenever prognosticators discuss our collective ed-future—21st century learning, the disrupted class, the shift—there are snazzy phrases and new, improved strategies to make learning more efficient. Higher scores in less time at lower cost, competitive learning through better tools.
Authors Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall write instead about human relationships, using new tools and ideas to build networks and communities that are well-designed but evolving, collaborative and sustainable. These groups focus on the work educators themselves believe is most important. The text is filled with probing questions and illustrative stories, but nary a value-added chart. Favorite section heading? ‘Put People Before Things (or Test Scores).’”
The authors’ emphasis on relationships is key, Flanagan writes, because “the future is unknowable. Arguments over the definition of 21st century learning and a locked-in-concrete national curriculum are a waste of time. Especially while there are large subsets of American kids in truly wretched schools.
Entrepreneurs promising that their ideas, technologies and programs will make children ready for the future can’t guarantee anything. Remember, the smartest, best-educated and most elite students of the last generation led this country into an economic abyss four years ago. Sniping over an exact delineation of what 21st century learners need is more about the snipers than the students.
I’m not particularly bothered by that murky road ahead. An excellent education really is built through lively relationships. Truly proficient teachers adjust the parameters of their practice constantly, to fit the unique students in their class, the resources available and, sometimes, the day’s headlines. Planning blind is sometimes an effective change process–and connecting with other educators to support and learn from each is always a superb idea.” Read more here.
I’m always amused when I hear edu-preneurs brag that they’re preparing students “for jobs that haven’t been invented yet.” Really? Then how do you know what skills and knowledge they’ll need for these yet-to-be-invented jobs? One thing we do know is that human relationships will continue to be central to learning and achievement.