It is hard to believe that it is the year 2018. It seems that with each year that passes, the norms and expectations of social change as well. Through this swinging pendulum of life, the only thing that is consistent is change. Change of technology, change of politics, and of course, change in the landscape of education.
Our seasoned colleagues often seem to have seen it all. Our new colleagues are eager to learn it all. Yet there is a giant group in the middle of the two who are trying to manage it all. With the landscape changing on a continuous basis, how can we be certain that we are serving our students the best?
The first thing to walk away from is the phrase we have heard a time or two too many, “It’s always been this way”.
No. No, no, no.
We are living in a time of perpetual change. Think back to when you were in high school and your friends were talking about future careers or ways to make money. How many people thought that a solid proposition was employment as a company’s social media manager? What about driving your personal car as a taxi where people could pay through their phone for some side hustle? Of course, everyone thought of the prospect of renting out their home on the weekend through the internet, right?
Chances are all those ring up as a big, fat “no”. Companies and organizations that are commonplace now would have seemed so utterly far-fetched even just ten years ago. This is the nature of the world we live in.
Change is happening faster than we can keep up with, and frankly, we are preparing our students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.
That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? How do we know we are giving them the skills they need? The best way to answer that question is to look within ourselves as educators. We live in a time of information that is at our fingertips whenever we are looking for it. Obviously focusing on content that Siri or Alexa can brief us on in a matter of seconds seems, dare I say it, archaic. However, we know our students need to know certain things….we do have a curriculum to follow…but how can we be assured that we are also doing our jobs of preparing them for that big, scary world that frankly, NONE of us have experienced yet?
The answer is simple, really. It is a matter of teaching that content through 21st-century skills. To have the students delve into the information through discovery and refinement of soft-skills, we are making sure they are getting the content they need and also working on the innate abilities that will be required of them in the real world. Today’s students need to be working on critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and collaboration. They need to be in the driver’s seat of their education. Passive learning is no longer an option for their success.
I discuss the reasons for this with data to back it all up in an article titled “Student-Centered Environments are loud…and that’s okay!” on Student-Centered World. The purpose of Student-Centered World is to help educators who want to make that shift from teacher-centered to a learner-centered classroom. Maybe the concept has intrigued you but is scary, or perhaps you’ve dabbled in the concept, but need some guidance on taking it to the next level. Maybe this is already your style, but you want to have your creativity sparked a bit more. We aim to help everyone from one end of that spectrum to the other. Truly, student-centered learning is the best way to make sure our students are prepared for the next step. What we’ve “always done” simply isn’t cutting it anymore, and we owe it to our students to give them the best chance of making it out there in the real world. At the end of the day, isn’t that what being an educator is all about?