Evolving Learning = Evolving Concerns
This week, as I read, watch and think about how learning has changed in so short a period, even from my own schooling in the 1990s, my personal concerns with social media and its impact on learning begin to shift. Yes, a concern for privacy and safety remains, and I doubt that will change. How I view that concern over privacy and safety is moving as I draw parallels to the dangers of many commonly used tools. But a different concern also emerges, a concern over my role in preparing students for the kind of learning and employment they will later engage in. This is not a new concern, and has been the main driver of my own professional development right from the beginning of my teaching career six years ago. But the readings of the past week help me better articulate my concern.
I have always seen my role as central in preparing students for later life. The impact of a teacher is not always immediately felt, nor can it be easily quantified, but there are very few who would argue against the influence a teacher can have in our youths’ development and later life outcomes. Working in a community school where I see the disadvantages some students are pushing against, I know how critical school can be in a child’s life. Supporting students, who are most vulnerable, in their classrooms is a defining characteristic of my position as a Learning Resource Teacher.
These facts are not very surprising when I consider how much the internet has changed since my own childhood. Things are moving quickly. But it can be intimidating to think that we are trying to prepare students for employment that does not yet even exist today. When they grow up, they will be trying to gain employment in fields that I cannot even fathom today.
Learning, Not Knowledge
The starting point for me must be a persistent self-reminder that learning is not at all the same as it was in my own childhood classroom. As Pevan Aurora says, “the value of knowledge is dropping.” The mass of human knowledge is exponentially increasing at an ever-increasing rate, and trying to keep up, as an education system, is impossible, and to be honest, ridiculous.
As knowledge continues to expand, it is also becoming more and more accessible. It is here where schools must be playing an active role. Trying to impart a fixed pool of information that may, or may not be relevant a year from now is not going to prepare my young learners for the jobs of today, much less jobs of the future.
Expiry Date on my Carton of Knowledge
(credit: theMolisticView CC by-nc-sa 3.0, at here)
Knowing that it is how students learn, and refining their ability to direct their own learning, that needs to be my focus, I can begin with myself. I believe I can give myself some credit here and say, with confidence, that I have continually been refining my practice. I know that things that I learn will probably not remain best practice for long. Alternative strategies, understandings and technologies are continually being developed.
For now, this means that I need to immerse myself in the potential for social media to enhance student learning. I am trying to implement Seesaw with my small reading groups in a bid to connect with both my students and their families in a way that is relevant. Five years from now … who knows? But one thing is abundantly clear, I cannot let concerns over potential safety issues with the Internet stop me from teaching my students how to use the tools they will absolutely need to participate in later schooling and employment.
Arora, P. [Tedx Talks]. (2014, May 29). Knowledge is obsolote, so now what? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWR5YXm2mRg
Wesch, M. [Tedx Talks]. (2010, October 12). Fro knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8