Teaching in a changing world

How do you take up teaching in a world where knowledge is becoming obsolete? What steps should/could we as educators take in relation to bringing social networks into the classroom? How do we balance the “moral imperative” to educate children to succeed in a rapidly changing world (see the NCTE definition of 21st century literacies) with concerns around student safety and privacy? Your response should take up one or more of the readings below (or other readings that you find on this topic).

The recommended readings and videos of this week really stirred up my thoughts and my emotions. Similar to Nancy’s experience, growing up, the education system I went through was the perfect example of one-way conversations lead by knowledgeable teachers. At that time, I could only rely on my awful notes and my textbooks. And I am saying “awful” because I could not write as fast as my teacher was talking. I felt frustrated trying to memorize things without being engaged in the majority of my subject areas. Actually, that was the reason of me becoming a teacher. I always felt there must be another way … It was when I moved to Canada, as part of my Education Program, when I started experiencing the effectiveness of participating in study groups. As Richard J. Light believes that it is a determinant of student success, I feel that through learning together, collaborating, connecting and sharing experiences and knowledge with my peers really helped me stay engaged and have a better understanding of the material I was learning. I was happy at the university and I truly felt that I was learning. But that was over ten years ago and since then things have changed. When I hear that “knowledge is becoming obsolete” I feel scared. I am working every day on transforming myself, as a teacher to become a “knowledge-able” person. I think this is a big job for the educators of today’s society to shift their worldview and depart from the knowledgeable educators towards becoming more meaningful, engaging knowledge-able educators who will teach students how to connect and collaborate with the world. Viewing our education system moving towards collaboration, I see lots of walls that need to come down, so our students can benefit from the values we all bring with ourselves. The traditional view, “my classroom, my students” mentality is something that will have to transform into a more collaborative, open environment where the existence of a network is possible. Watching Michael Wesch’s presentation and listening to Pavan Arora’s TED X, I would agree that a knowledge-able educator teaches students “creativity”, teaches them how to “access, assess and apply knowledge” (Pavan Arora) and often times learns together with the students. This is certainly the hardest, feeling vulnerable while being the facilitator while learning together with the students. It is crucial to teach students about online safety as well as giving them guidelines that will help them become self-confident individuals who do not have to fear our changing society. 

I think for my students who are English Language learners, having access to this powerful network is simply amazing. Schools or classrooms can connect online to do novel studies, share ideas, publish student work, as well as having pen pals. There are a variety of tools, such as Seesaw, Flipgrid, Kidblog that the students can use to improve their language skills as well as organize and publish their work. These opportunities are building blocks for them to become active participants of this powerful network where they can express themselves freely with the help of retakes in case they are needed. Retakes are the best friend of an EAL (English as an Additional) person. It is like having another chance, as many as needed to correct pronunciation and grammar mistakes or reform sentences to sound more native like until things are “right”. Both my students and I can relate to the individuals from An anthropological introduction to YouTube , who had a hard time talking and recording themselves in their YouTube videos feeling that “everybody is watching yet nobody is there”. Talking to the unknown, not knowing who is listening, watching and what they are thinking can make people feel very vulnerable but at the same time it gives the opportunity to show your true self. From all the readings and videos my main takeaway is to focus more on exposing students to the benefits of technology, to give them tools to connect and collaborate which will empower them to believe in themselves and be proud individuals in different kinds of environments. 

3 thoughts on “Teaching in a changing world

  1. Melinda, I associate with the idea of “my classroom, my students” and that we must open the classroom to collaboration. I also see these many walls that must come down. Sometimes I wonder how effective the use of all of these technological tools is with the precious time we have each day. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  2. Hey! I read your post with great interest, thanks for the food for thought.
    I really sympathize with your statement of “Knowledge is becoming obsolete, I feel scared”. I really do believe that people who make the statement of “everything is on the internet knowledge is obsolete” are sort of fear mongering or just not really thinking things through. Just because something is on YouTube, doesn’t make anyone actually good at it! Teachers aren’t going away any time soon. I think the way we teach is going to change a lot (hopefully), and we can focus on more personalized curriculum for students. YouTube really does democratize knowledge a bit in this regard…. anything you want to learn is out there!

    Being a teacher is a really complicated job. YouTube can’t replace that, but we are certainly responsible for exposing our students to all the wonderful tech stuff that exists today. The SAMR model is really good at helping teachers figure out if the tech they are using is simply a replacement for something else or actually transnational. I feel like we have a lot of good options out there, but a small subset may actually be transnational. Carry on!

  3. Great points about the value of collaboration. We need to create meaningful experiences for our students (building a community of learners) to stay engaged!

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