Facing the future

Will education change?

Yes.

It has to. It’s already changing.

Times have changed.  The kids of today are not the same as the kids of my generation.  I was so different from my parents generation.  People move forward.

Things come in cycles, and seem to circle round again.  Perhaps my children (or grandchildren) will attend university in a classroom with other students, and that will seem like a novelty.

One Room School

I disagree with Prakash Nair, who says, “The classroom is a relic, left over from the Industrial Revolution, which required a large workforce with very basic skills. Classroom-based education lags far behind when measured against its ability to deliver the creative and agile workforce that the 21st century demands. This is already evidenced by our nation’s shortage of high-tech and other skilled workers—a trend that is projected to grow in coming years.”  School is not broken, although occasionally misguided.  School has a purpose.

I believe in the necessity of a connected classroom.  I subscribe (mostly) to a connectivist mindset.  And I value the place a classroom continues to hold in our world.  I refuse to believe otherwise.

classroom

One concern I have about retreating into our own computer screens is the inevitable loss of interaction.  I see evidence of this in my students.  Long gone are the days of knocking on someone’s door asking if so-and-so could come out to play, riding off on bicycles only to return when hunger needs required us to do so.  I get that.  The world isn’t as safe now.  But dependence on technology also seems to have increased the amount of socially awkward people in my classrooms.  I have students who would rather sit side-by-side and gchat than talk to each other during a project.  Teachers need to guide them to collaborate, to talk, to work together.  We need balance.

Kids biking

The world is different.  In my childhood, Skype was a distant possibility that existed only on The Jetsons and in Spaceballs.  For my daughter, that’s where her grandparents live—in the laptop computer.  Skype has changed to FaceTime.  Things are improving.  Always changing.

I know there are holdout luddites still claiming that technology is a fad. It’s not.  The world has moved on.  Technology exists beyond gadgets, and is a necessity that we either subscribe to or get left behind.  Does everyone need an iEverything?  Of course not.  But people who refuse to change will be left behind.  It’s a (brutal) reality.  It is inexcusable, in education at least, to be unaware of simple computer and internet functions, like how to navigate gmail.  Technology is no longer a novelty; for most of the world, technology is a necessity.

Slave

Where do I see myself in five years?  Back in a literature classroom, if not reaching the tail end of a few years off to be home with my children.  (Ideal world this break will begin the year after next).

Where do I see myself in ten?  In a library, hopefully.  My husband is working his way through his doctorate—when he finishes, I will go back to become a librarian.  On some level, it inspired this journey through Coetail.  I thought it would be a good stepping stone before I get going with my degree.  Talk about change!  A library today is vastly different from what a library was when I was a child.  I have a card catalogue in my home, since it no longer holds a purpose in a library.

Looking down at the Card Catalogs

This year I am working on the library curriculum committee for our library review.  Libraries now open their doors to Makerspaces, to learning spaces for digital literacy, for collections in the Cloud.  It’s exciting because it is changing so quickly.  Even with the changes, the library tends to be my favorite place in almost any school.  I hope to live there one day.

 

Nair, Prakash. “The Classroom Is Obsolete: It’s Time for Something New.” Education Week. N.p., 10 May 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016. <https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/07/29/37nair.h30.html?tkn=SXYFVeUiOsqZ1FKlIy6JGQjoo%2B7zXLLpGaV%2F&intc=bs#.TmJXUsuTfP4.facebook>.