The big article I read this week for my Digital Literacy class was 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us by Will Richardson. Basically Richardson talks about nine of the biggest issues in our classrooms that we are simply not addressing right now. Of these nine issues, there are three that are particularly disturbing to me.
- We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.
- I know that this is not new information to anyone. I can remember being in elementary school and going back after the summer, struggling to remember concepts that we learned the previous school year. The part that bothers me though, is of all the time our students are spending in school. We are talking about years here, folks. If students aren’t actually learning much while they’re in school, why are we forcing this? I’m not saying that children shouldn’t go to school. But if they are spending so much time there, I think that we have to become more innovative thinkers in regards to our children’s education. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect to get different results. It’s time to change things up in regards to education. I think one way to do this is to incorporate more passion-based learning with our students. It’s been proven that students learn far better and are more engaged when they are interested in the subject matter. Obviously we can’t cut out all traditional schooling (currently), but there is definitely opportunity to inject it with some innovative thinking.
- We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.
- This is probably the one that bothers me the most, and I’m a parent and a student that is guilty of it. Right now, grades and test scores are how many students are being labeled as “successful” or “smart”, and also the way many are being accepted into college. Until we change the way students are learning and the attitude about it, I don’t know what we can do to change the perception on this issue.
- We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.
- Obviously. Does it really matter how long it took a train to get from Barcelona to Paris if it was going 55 km/hr and then passed a bus traveling from Rome to Lisbon with 42 members of the Italian opera on board? Or is it more important to be able to cook for yourself, do your own laundry, and balance a checkbook? We make sure that students were taught (not necessarily learned) things that will have no bearing on how successful they are in the future, like what year did Ramses II of Egypt die (1213 BC, in case you wanted to know) and not things like how to check the oil level of your vehicle. The point is that students are temporarily memorizing facts just to earn a grade. Why not have them actually learn something that will actually be useful to them in the future?
I think that I have clearly demonstrated that it is far more important to me that students need to actually learn, and not just appear to learn by a grade or a test score. We have so many great resources and tools to offer our students these days. Why not change things up and see if it makes a difference? I really don’t think it would be a bad thing.