The question I ask teachers to reflect on is, Are my teaching practices more 19th century than21st century?
And if methods are 19th century is their any justification? In the 19th and 20th century, teaching focused on preparing students to work in factories, on assembly lines, and on farms. However, the learning demands for the 21st century ask students to collaborate and use technology to learn and communicate globally and become creative problem solvers in a fast changing world.
When I was in high school I thought I was a great history student; I was an “A”student. The class was like an assembly line. I am sure many readers will relate to my example. Every Monday through Wednesday I would enter class and copy down facts from the blackboard. I would start memorizing those facts each night for the quiz game every Thursday followed by my test on Friday. Typically, the tests were multiple choice, fill in the blank, and some matching. I was good at memorizing facts and did very well. I thought I was a great student of history. Today, it is clear to me that all those facts I labored over can all be found on my iphone if a few minutes of time. I never learned how to think about history, to problem solve, to question, to write.
The teaching I experienced does not prepare students for much at all, maybe to be good at trivial pursuit-but that is it. Why does such teaching still exist? It is time for a significant change not just in history classrooms but all classrooms as we work to teach students how to think creatively, to problem solve, collaborate, and to communicate. Rows and lectures are pure representatives of the compliant classroom, what I experienced ,and what I do not want children today to have to experience. The grades I received in those take notes and memorize for the test classrooms had incredible impact on what higher learning opportunities I had and of course others too. It is crucial and time that some often lauded practices of the past end.
It’s critical to keep teachers abreast of the research best practice and on integrating technology into learning in meaningful ways. This along with strong leadership can increase the rate of change. When used correctly technology can have a transformative impact on teaching and learning. When technology is poorly integrated it simply takes the place of items used in past. As an example a SMART Board can become a very expensive blackboard.
We need to teach students for their future not our past.