Sunday, September 24, 2006

Teaching for a time when we're not around

I was in a teacher's classroom last week - invited in for a very non-technology purpose: viewing the development of independent skills in young children related to literacy instruction.  When I walked in, the teacher gave me a quick synopsis of what they were going to be doing and what she'd done so far.  Then she handed me a book called "Rules in School"  which is all about how and why we develop rules in school with children and creating logical consequences when rules aren't followed.

As she began her morning meeting, I thumbed through the book (then quickly went to the phone and ordered a copy for myself).  I wrote down several things as I skimmed the book, but one quote keeps coming back to me: "We are teaching for the time when we will not be there." While this may seem a little too simplistic to some, it occurs to me that we can apply this in more ways than just creating rules. 

"We are teaching for the time when we will not be there" brings up a list of various examples in my mind:

  • parenting
  • driving a car
  • teaching teachers to use technology/software/tools
  • helping students understand the tools of the web/the tools of software
  • navigating the Internet / Internet safety

In terms of the work I do in my district, I'm particularly thinking about all of the technology applications of "teaching for a time when I'm not around."

• How do we introduce/teach new software to students in a way that will help them use it independently and/or apply that information to new pieces of software they might use (when I'm not around)?

• How do we teach teachers about technology use in such a way that it's used to help students learn and not just as an electronic worksheet (when I'm not around)?

• How do we teach students to navigate an environment that really has no rules (the web) safely and securely (when I'm not around)?

• How do we teach students to think their way out of all the information that's available to them (when I'm not around)?

We're going to really need to think about our pedagogy, about how we facilitate learning rather than direct learning in order to fully prepare our students for our rapidly changing world and for a time when we're not around.

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