I have been a teacher for 3 and a half years, and my views of education have been changing drastically over the last two years. (As they should considering I am learning more and the world is forever changing). It has come to my attention that I do not fully understand the education system, and I am unsure that I ever will.
I was a good student, and I did my homework, went to class, graduated with good marks, and went on to university like I thought any good student should do. I enrolled into the combined BEd BA program, mainly because I had no idea what I wanted to do and I was told that taking general classes was only for those who did not have a “life plan,” and I did not want to be considered one of those people. Anyway, I graduated with good marks in 2010 and received a job as a secondary teacher.
As it seemed my life generally followed the status quo. Therefore, it seemed just fine to teach how I have been taught, for the most part, as well. After all, the majority of educators around me are doing the same and I was taught that way in University. I mainly teach English, and I was/am a struggling beginning teacher so I stuck with the classics, and did some comprehension questions, some essays and tried to incorporate some new and “innovative” stuff. How terrible of me. I will be the first to admit that this mentality of how we were taught in school CANNOT be how we teach the learners of today.
The learners of today, the 21st Century learners are different. Any student can Google almost any book and take almost any question off of the Internet. Why are we still teaching for comprehension or memorization? I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, no one ever cares about Scout or Boo again, once grade 11 is over or the AP test is written or English 100 is passed, so why as educators do we insist on teaching it? How is our teaching of today preparing students for the future? Quite frankly, most of it isn’t.
As an ELA teacher, I need to be careful to not slip into literature for literature’s sake. Nothing is wrong with a good book or a classic book, but it should be used to look at themes and then have the students relate it to their life. English should be surrounded by inquiry, projects and wonder, versus chapter questions and essays.
I was brushing my teeth, thinking about my upcoming semester and how I am basically a hypocrite because if I was in a high school setting, I too would be ignoring my teacher, checking my twitter feed, Googling all of my homework, and finding things I was more interested in. I would not do it out of disrespect, but out of boredom and relevance. Yet, I am the one who (get ready to cringe) is questioning the students on Holden Caulfield’s stream of consciousness. I laid in bed thinking about this, and turned to my twitter feed. I retweeted Marc Andreessen’s @pmarca “What’s the one thing you never do in a real job after you graduate from school? Take a test,” simply because I liked the tweet. Alison Seaman @alisonseaman then shared with me an article written by him, and introduced me to Audrey Watters @audreywatters and HackEducation. I read a few posts, and I only have a general idea, but I took this as a sign. I was just thinking that change is so very much needed in today’s education, and then BOOM I was immersed with numerous, awesome resources.
What it took me over 600 words to say is I am going to change teaching. I’ll start with small steps. It will be better. It is not terrible now, but I would like those 21st Century learners to learn 21st century skills.