Education’s Changing Landscape

I saw this (you have to check out the link to understand this post):

And then wrote this:
Edubusiness | Edcuation’s changing landscape
You Say You Want a Revolution

Only a decade ago, virtually all of a students learning came from sources given to them by their teacher–textbooks and tests, primarily. What they learned was shared only with the teacher and then thrown out into the garbage. Today more and more learning comes from digital sources they access on computers, tablets and the results of their learning is shared through digital formats with the world.

Where will the classroom be in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years?

Mr. Bogush is a teacher and speaker, and the winner of the 2013 B.S Pile Classroom Teacher-of-the Year Award.

 

Before I tell you my thoughts on the matter, you should know that you’re reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in public education who still believes that schools are not dying…they’re just starting to come alive.

There are many (many) people who predict the downfall of public schools and the irrelevancy of the classroom as an educational entity. I am not one of them. In my opinion, the value of a classroom is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul a teacher has bled into it, and the community value that taxpayers (and governments) place on their students and their place in the marketplace. Kahn Academy, Youtube and charter schools have shrunk the importance and respect for public school teachers, and every teacher has handled this blow differently.

In recent years, you’ve probably read the articles about people who have decided to practically give their lessons away, for this website or that video channel. My hope for the future, not just in schools, but in every young kid I meet…is that they all realize that nothing will replace a face-to-face conversation, a touch on the shoulder, or a high five in the hallway at the end of a challenging day.

Teaching is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that teachers should be compensated in accordance with other jobs that are deemed “important”, and my prediction is that teachers will someday decide that what they do has true value worth fighting for and determine what that value is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.

Arrows Through the Heart

In mentioning public schools, I’d like to point out that kids are still attending, but now they’re expecting a different experience. They are finding value in the classes that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone. It isn’t as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a group kids sit in front of you and blindly follow a teacher’s directions, and as teachers, that should challenge and motivate us.

There are always going to be those teachers who break through on an emotional level and end up leaving a mark on kids’ lives forever. The way I see it, students view music the way they view their relationships. Some classes are forgotten about as soon as the kids leave their seat. Some classes are just for fun, a passing fling (the ones they joke about during lunch that they will soon forget they ever attended). Some classes represent seasons of their lives, like relationships that we hold dear in our memories but had their time and place in the past.

However, some classes will be like finding “the one.” Kids will cherish every activity in the teacher’s class until the last day of school and they will re-tell their stories from class to their children and grandchildren. As an teacher, this is the dream bond we hope to establish with our kids. I think the future still holds the possibility for this kind of bond, the one I had in elementary school with Mr. Vaccino, or the one in college with Professor Branigan.

I think forming a bond with kids in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say “shock”; I said “surprise.” I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other,  can’t the bond between a teacher and their kids also benefit from the same?

Classroom Commercial 2014-15 from Moran Mustangs on Vimeo.

In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked into class every day last year knowing almost every kid could have easily googled any of the content we were supposed to have covered the night before. To continue to allow them to do something they had never done before, I brought in special guests through skype, used a variety of new tech tools, created hands-on activities and simply did a lot of wacky creative activities that they never ever even heard of before.  My generation was raised on being able to continue teaching if kids got bored. That is simply no longer true.   Kids want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation’s teachers will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their classes on their toes, as challenging as that might be.

There are a few things I have witnessed becoming obsolete in the past few years, the first being textbooks. I haven’t been asked for a textbook to be purchased from my classes since the first PC entered my room 15 years ago. Textbooks are left in the class at the end of the year.  What kids can create digitally can continue to live on outside of the classroom for years.

Digital Power

A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more social media influence. I see this becoming a trend in the teaching industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my staff meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my students and teachers on this new site called Myspace and sharing my lessons and student work on our class Geocities website. In the future, teachers will get teaching jobs deals because they have shown proof of a digital trail of impressive accomplishments—they won’t be hired on their potential, they will be expected to have already shared their potential with the world.

Another theme I see fading into the gray is subject distinction. These days, nothing great you see in the classroom seems to come from just one influence. The wild, unpredictable learning rule in the digital age is that anything goes. Social Studies includes language arts, Art is combined with science, Science is meshed with math—and to me, that’s incredible progress. I want to have a class that reflects all of my influences and combines all content, and I think that in the coming decades the idea of content specific classes will become less of a school-defining path and more of an organizational tool.

This moment in education is so exciting because the creative avenues an teacher can explore are limitless. In this moment in teaching, stepping out of your comfort zone can be rewarded, and classroom evolution is not only accepted…it is celebrated. The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all.

Teaching Spotlight

I predict that some things will never change. There will always be an increasing fixation on testing, especially standardized. Teachers who were at their peak in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s tell me, “It was never this crazy for us back then!” And I suspect I’ll be saying that same thing to younger teachers someday. There continues to be a bad teacher vs. good teacher, paper vs. paperless debate, and for as long as those labels exist, I just hope there will be contenders on both sides. Everyone needs someone to relate to right?

And as for me? I’ll just be sitting back and growing old, watching all of this happen or not happen, all the while trying to maintain a life rooted in this same optimism.

And I’d also like a nice motorcycle.

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