Monday, August 26, 2013

How to be Taught Versus How to Learn

Alan November once wrote, "At an education conference in England an insightful teacher made this distinction between what our schools were designed to do and what we need to do: 'We have succeeded at teaching our students how to be taught and what we need to do is teach them how to learn.'"  While it is a bit simplified, but I think this statement sums up perfectly a change that needs to happen in the world of education in order to help our students prepare for their futures.  This shift in the mindset of educators is one example of the change in skills from the 19th and 20th century world of education to the 21st century skills that both Reimers and the Asia Society require in their definitions of global competency.

Reimers said that "the educational paradox of the beginning of the twenty-first century lies in the disconnect between the superb institutional capacity of schools and their underperformance in preparing students to invent a future that appropriately addresses the global challenges and opportunities shared with their fellow world citizens… Few schools around the world today are equipping students with the skills and habits of mind necessary to collaborate with others, across national boundaries, in inventing and implementing lasting solutions to these challenges…. Preparing students to deal with such complexity and controversies is at the heart of global education. Such preparation is absent today in most schools around the world.  This is paradoxical, because we live at a time of extraordinary institutional capacity."

            The Asia Society similarly stated, "The vast majority of teaching around the world is still geared to preparing young people for lives in the 19th and 20th centuries" and commented on the lack of change to curricula, forms of pedagogy, uses of media, and forms of assessment.  "The world for which we are preparing our youth is qualitatively different from the industrial world in which our public school systems were created."  This need for new skills for the 21st century relates perfectly to Daniel Pink's "conceptual age" that is referenced in the reading and that we read about a year or two ago as a faculty.

            While the skills are undeniably necessary, I couldn't help but notice the need for disposition as well.  I was most struck by Gardner's statement, "What is needed more than ever is a laser-like focus on the kinds of human beings that we are raising and the kids of societies- indeed in a global era, the kind of society- that we are fashioning." 

Reimers summed it up best by stating "Preparing students with the skills and the ethical dispositions to invent a future that enhances human well-being in this space of possibility is the most critical challenge for schools in our time."


-Megan Haddadi

Lower School Technology

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