My husband and I debate a lot about what students learn in school. I think we both agree that basics are important and that they are a foundation for future learning. But we tend to disagree on the “how” these things should be taught.
We can’t go back to the slate and chalk days! It is a different world now than it was then. That is like trying to travel in a horse and buggy on today’s interstates. Not only would it take forever to get to our destination but could make the trip so miserable that we quit!
We have technology today that makes learning different. I don’t think it is necessarily easier or better but it is definitely different.
Since students have access to many forms of technology, which they will probably use in their futures, why not incorporate it into their learning? We use electric lighting instead of candles to light our house (which is also safer!). Many people use heat sources other than just wood fire to heat their homes. When electric tools came out, no one blamed a construction worker for using electric tools instead of the old tools. When electric appliances and kitchen tools came out, the finished product didn’t taste any different than those made without them and sometimes they come out better. How many people still use typewriters (besides my 95 year old father!)? How many people still use a rotary phone?
When I see people debating about education, I think they are getting the “what” and the “how” mixed up and calling it all “education.” I think the “what” is easy to agree on but “how” we will get there seems to be a major hurdle. We all seem to agree that reading and math is important. Then we start breaking down the skills to become proficient in these concepts and everything gets murky then.Not only do we need to teach students basic skills, which are a foundation for learning, but also we need to teach students how to learn. Their learning doesn’t stop when they leave our classrooms or their school careers. Their interests may change so they need to learn how to find out more information about their new interests. The economy may change and they may have to find new careers, which will involve new learning.
We need to teach students to be ready for the world they live in and for the future, not for the past.