“THE DRIFT IN EDUCATION” by Heather Noreen
Drift (definition from Google search engine)
- be carried slowly by a current of air or water.
- be blown into heaps by the wind.
Education or our school system today is well represented by both definitions.
The state took education out of parents’ hands between the 19th and 20th century. Educators, parents and students/children have all drifted along quite successfully until the recent age of technology and readily available information.
Now this wind of technology has put the educational world into a flurry which often forms drifts.
Teachers who have trouble embracing their role as a facilitator are desperately holding on; while less risk-averse teachers are held back by the growing importance of standardized testing. In the middle of these drifts, we can still find brightness such as thought provoking scholars like Howard Gardner and new innovative educational models in Finland.
Parents are creating drifts of their own:
- those who have abandoned their educational role as a parent to the school system
- those who criticize without supporting/helping to improve often striping away any respect a student could have for this institution
- those who have left the public school system partially or completely to follow their own paths
Children/students are torn by their intrinsic desire to “learn” about things around them as they are being blown around all these drifts. They lose respect for parents and teachers as they feel their NEW world is misunderstood or unappreciated by their elders.
Unfortunately, the wind will most likely keep them close to the nearest drifts leading to a highly divided society, one in which instead of empowering them to fly, we will deposit them into a pile.
CAN THE PROVERB “It takes a village to raise a child” STILL APPLY TO MODERN DAY SOCIETY?
Before the 19th century the family and neighbors represented the most important source of instruction and now in the 21st century children are left to their own “devises and devices”. The lack of interest and desire to understand this new highly connected world on behalf of educators leads to a higher disrespect on behalf of students/children.
As in any situation, change will need to come from within. The people will need to recognize there is no “right or wrong” or “left or right party” in education. We need to reunite as people who regard “learning” important at ANY age.
We could learn to recognize parents as peers in the educating process, sharing with each other knowledge and experience as we connect in the learning process of our students/children. This new educative team includes the students as their semi-peers as a more “facilitator” approach to teaching emerges
The educative team respects each other’s differences and learns from each other to create a better world. Through this mutual agreement, educators (parents and teachers) will remain models which children so desperately need as they grow up. In my opinion, one of Howard Gardner’s greatest pieces of advice is his most simplistic “Kids never listen to what you say, but they always notice what you do.” It is imperative that we learn to use technology even if we have to ask them to be our teachers.
In an “App System” learning is a mutual venture emerging from the child’s desire to learn and participate with the teacher who leads and communicates and observing parents who connect. However, the way the system works now, most teachers don’t actually get to meet the parents (one to one) before the first parent/teacher conference (6-8 weeks into the school year) unless something goes REALLY wrong. In that case, the first contact is negative which doesn’t foster trusting relationships between families and schools.
I recognize and acknowledge the common view that minimizes “apps” in today’s society yet even Howard Gardner supports apps that enable new situations. As educators we need to become models for the use of apps by becoming app enabling.
WHAT BETTER WAY THAN TO ENABLE COMMUNICATION
We all agree that learning can be a positive and rewarding situation especially when we can share it and find meaning by applying it.
We all agree that learning can be done at all ages.
Why should it be limited from 8am to 3pm on Monday through Friday?
If topics are of interest and the right questions are asked, kids will want to share and expand on that knowledge at home with their families. They might even want to share their discoveries or new questions the next day with their classmates or teacher.
Yes of course, most of you would say that this is limited to a certain income class. Yet if we work as a community, we might find solutions to help those in need. We could work with associations, write for grants or be creative by organizing old tablet/smartphone donations.
The app revolution has also contributed to minimalize social inequity. Many apps are free and accessible by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These devices are less expensive than their counterpart computer with onerous software licenses.
BECOME EDUCATIONAL PARTNERS THROUGH APP ENABLEMENT
Teachers can now easily communicate with all parents putting them on equal ground. They can give parents a peek inside their child’s day through pictures and comments (something to help parents connect with their children), but also give them fuel for further learning at home by posting content (interesting web pages, YouTube video links or interesting apps).
Many apps also provide an interactive experience giving families the possibility to share with teachers. They could set goals to work and document them through the app.
Now schools, stigmatized in some communities, can change their image. Teachers can have a POSITIVE influence outside of school walls connecting with families through technology “they use” such as texting vs. emailing. Now even lower income and divorced parents can finally feel comfortable as an educator and important role model for their children.
Teachers that engage families by caring and sharing will empower their students and reap the rewards of a satisfying career raising the future leaders of our society.
What are we waiting for?