Saturday, March 7, 2015

Preparing Kids for Yesterday

This is a short excerpt from a book that Melissa and I are writing about our 20% Time program, our PBL classes and the philosophy behind it all.

Traditional schooling is destined to fail our kids. Our kids will be graduating into a world that no longer values book knowledge but rather problem-solving, creativity, design and intellectual agility. Our schools need a revolution. We need to throw out all that we know and begin building from the ground up. I like to ask other teachers, “If you were to completely redesign a learning program for kids, with no restrictions, how much would it resemble our current school system?” Not one teacher ever told me that it would be close to what we have today. We know in our hearts that we are going down the wrong road but we feel powerless to stop, reverse course, and begin the process of change so that kids can experience real learning.

We have to approach our teaching with much more urgency. We have to know that these kids leave us in a precious few months and we may not have adequately prepared them for the world in which they will live. We may have prepared them for the next grade level of school but there is little resemblance between the next grade level and the skills they will need for their lives after school. Yet we hold on to the past, teaching with the same methods that would be recognized as good schooling in classrooms 100 years ago. In fact, we are preparing the kids for yesterday.

In my district, there is great autonomy and taking risks is valued. Many teachers in my district are experimenting with methods and programs that actually lead to great learning. Why aren’t all? Many have reached the “comfort zone” which is the most dangerous place to be. The teacher is comfortable doing the same thing year after year and wonders time and again why the kids are not responding like they used to. The kids resemble silent, bored automatons, slogging through their daily chores in order to get to that final bell that allows them to leave school and begin learning what is really important to them.

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