One Step Forward, Two Back

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europe-va-tech-vga-2008-421Ok, I am feeling trapped in a 19th century system while trying to allow 21st century learning to happen. Is it because students don’t know how to “do” 21st century learning? Is it because they are so ingrained in a system that is outdated and they just go through the motions? I see glimpses of learning – like today when we were analyzing the European Union. Students had researched information about whether the candidate countries meet the criteria the EU has set and I had “researchers” ready for questions that would come up. Students were debating ideas like GDP, economic stability based on what they were reading, and as we needed more information the researcher would look up facts like literacy rate, etc. I really felt like students were informed, interested, and were able to enjoy the debate. Technology was not used just so students could use the internet but rather they were integrating the technology into their learning – as naturally as they text, IM, etc. It was a great day and I felt as if it was truly student learning taking place. I was the facilitator, they were learning from each other. It is not like this every day and I am continually asking why. And as the bell was ringing and students were grabbing their books and turning computers off, I wondered how to fit this type of learning into my 48 minute schedule? Why can’t the educational system focus on meeting student needs in the 21st century instead of focusing on standards of learning and testing? I know we need standards but do we need to teach to a test that a group of people who are not in classrooms have developed into a multiple choice test? When do we use multiple choice tests in life? I realize these are pretty random thoughts but I don’t think our system is working and as we look to work out the budget problems I hope we don’t lose focus on our progress. We must move forward – we cannot afford two steps back.

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