Categories » ‘Education’

The Future’s So Bright…

October 30th, 2012 by

The world of education has begun to shift.  Noted educator Will Richardson recently wrote in the New York Times that, because of the pervasiveness of the internet and the World Wide Web, “schools, like media, music, business, politics, and other industries… will have to change.”

Even though he says that no one now knows what will become of schools and the classroom by the end of this transformation, Mr. Richardson notes three touchstones as a starting point for parents and educators to involve themselves in the change – and to prepare students for it.

One of the ideas he finds central to “tomorrow’s” education is that the classroom will expand, or have, as he puts it, “thin walls”.  As our society becomes more and more connected – as our teens and tweens become more “plugged in”, we have to realize that the amount of learning taking place outside the traditional classroom setting is increasing exponentially.

So, what, as parents and educators, can we do to prepare our children and ourselves for this unprecedented change?

The first thing, and quite possibly the most important thing, we can do is to teach our children discernment.  Kids are very adept at scouring the web at younger and younger ages, and we need to give them the skills to navigate this world.  Up until now, the conversation has rested mostly on keeping kids safe online, and, while that is important, it isn’t enough anymore.  Kids need to understand how to find reliable information online; they need to understand that not everything they see is the truth.  This task of teaching discernment isn’t a new one for parents – they’ve been doing it for generations (eat this mushroom, aKids Get A Lot of Screen Timend not that) – the trick is that with the internet and World Wide Web, we are in heretofore uncharted territory.  We are in territory that is changing and evolving more and more rapidly with each passing year.  If we’re to teach Web skills to our kids, we had better have at least a basic handle on it ourselves.

The second thing we need to remember is that, even with society changing at an exponential pace, we still need to take time away from all the information.  Kids (and adults!) need to make sure that they have time to play, rest, relax, and engage with each other in a non-cyber fashion.  Screen time is becoming an addiction (think of TV addiction on steroids!) for many tweens and teens today.  It’s important as parents and educators to stop and model play and recreation behaviors for their kids and to schedule it into their lives.

We’re living in exciting times – Will Richardson says that there has never been a better time in the history of mankind to be a learner – the bounties that technology has to offer us and will continue to offer us in the future is breathtaking.  But, as parents and educators, we must meet the challenge with open eyes and open minds.

Games Teachers Play (good ones)

October 3rd, 2012 by

Games Teachers Play - Book CoverI’m very excited and pleased to announce the release of my book “Games Teachers Play Before the Bell Rings” – a fun book that contains 10 games to stretch the imagination of those who work with children and youth… and to transform how we, as teachers, see the world.  The goal of the games is to bring the teacher new awareness into the art and power of their unique position and to enable them to speed along the road from “good” to “great”.

Until October 5th, you can download a FREE Kindle version of the book here.

After October 5th, it will still be available for the bargain price of $2.99.

Here is to teachers who are self-aware, conscious, and consciously making a difference!

The Primal Question

September 28th, 2012 by

Before we can even begin to discuss what needs to change in our system of education, we need to take a long, hard look at our raison d’etre for education in the first place.  Our cultural subconscious has been branded, as it were, since the 1950′s with the idea of what success looks like: more money, more power, more prestige.  And that is the ethic that we mindlessly hand down to our children: stay in school, even if it sucks, stick it out, get good grades, go get a “good” job, work your butt off for someone else’s profit for 50 years, retire, and hope you’ve socked enough money away that you don’t starve in your old age.

But what we are finding through the generations since the end of WWII is that having this “more” mentality has had some adverse effects.

People doing unrewarding, personally meaningless work because it pays well or because someone along the line told them they “should” pursue a certain career.  Important, necessary work falling to the wayside or relegated to the underclasses (or socially masochistic) because it has not been glamorized by our culture.  A subculture of people who will disregard ethics, principles, and even the rule of law if a certain activity will fill the “more” mold set forth by society.

As Brendon Burchard has written in his latest book, The Charge, Maslow’s hierarchy is now turned on its head.  In today’s uber-connected, sped-up, and super-informationalized society, our base needs have pretty much become a given.  Today, the poor of our country aren’t those who can’t afford food- they’re the ones who can’t afford cable TV and cell phones.  And behind this fast, profound change that we find our society amidst, is our human search for meaning… our drive to be fulfilled and live lives of purpose.

So… what does this have to do with education?

Today’s education model is still trying to turn out, assembly-line style, “workers” for the old economy.  People who will go accept any job to grab hold of a rung to try and climb to “the top”, wherever that is.  Children are told to sit down, shut up, and listen; the single most valued character trait in today’s schools is compliance.

Rarely are our children given any tools to understand, much less seek, fulfillment.  Rarely do our schools speak to children about meaning and purpose.  Yet new psychological studies are showing that children who do understand and have intrinsic representations for purpose and meaning are more apt to learn and contribute (See William Damon’s book “The Path to Purpose”).

So the question that must be asked is this: at the end of our kids’ compulsory education, do we want factory-ready worker drones, or do we want thinking adults with an intrinsic link to the meaning of being human?

I realize that it is not as simply dichotomous as presented above… but I do know that if we are to evolve as quickly as our technology is moving, we need to start questioning the foundation – the reasons – for our educational systems.

Finding Purpose and Meaning
It’s time for schools to foster the incubation of little humans’ search for meaning and purpose

What is the future of Education?

September 26th, 2012 by

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on what, exactly, the future of the American Education System is going to be, if we continue down the road we’re currently traveling… AND what the future could or should be, given our current level of technology development, social and cultural development, and the current damage being dealt to the next generation via our outdated, outmoded, and detrimental clinging to paradigms in education that were relevant 50 – 100 years ago, but are now counterproductive.

All this against the backdrop of my first experience as a PARENT within the education system… my child has just begun 1st grade…

Transforming an entrenched, funded, and “we’ve always done it this way” mindset within the education system is a daunting task.  Sometimes it feels too big, too overwhelming.  But, by the same measure, if someone – if I – don’t start, we’re going to have a real hot mess in (probably) less than a decade’s time.  Some folks think we already have a real hot mess now.

So, stop number one on this train ride, is thought provoking material from “The Innovative Educator” blog.  One teacher chimes in with “20 Things” – 20 insider observations – that he thinks outsiders should know about the education system… and another teacher comments on each of the 20 items. They don’t always agree, but the sum of their observations sheds much light on what is going wrong, or is about to go wrong, in today’s schools.

20 Things an Educator Wants the Nation to Know About Education

What do you think?

Funny and Profound – Don’t Kill Creativity!

September 3rd, 2011 by

Here is a remarkable video from Sir Ken Robinson that was brought to my attention by a former teacher and mentor (thank you, Brad Hawkins, for this video, and thank you for the difference you have made in the lives of the thousands of children and youth that you’ve impacted and continue to impact to this day).

Yes, it’s 19 minutes long, but it’s highly entertaining and has a message that today’s education professionals need to hear.

What is wonderful is that, using Youth Development principles, this is a gap that is being filled by Out-of-School-Time professionals already.  How affirming!

Enjoy!