Avoiding the Revolution?

When did the stone age flintknappers actually realize that their skills had become obsolete?  Do you think they looked around at the folks who were working on making a hotter fire, shake their heads and say, “We have to emphasize stone flaking and drawing pictures of our hunts on the walls of caves. This playing with fire will only get us burnt–glowing coals, UGH!”?  And did they think: “All of our young men and women must show proficiency in the ways of following the paths of the animals and the seasons of the good plants!”  “If we don’t manage to teach our youth how to better do these things, we will continue to see a decline in the herds!”? “Everyone must join us in this race to the edge of the cliff!”  How long did these people fool themselves until somebody realized that using tools that broke easily and took days to make did not make sense any more?  That controlling the animals and helping the plants grow in the same place each year made things easier? Obviously the transition from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age happened, but somewhere in the interim there were groups of people that did not make the transition and suffered in the competition with their neighbors.  I think we are at that point now.  So much of what we have our students do in school is obsolete.  Why do we continue to insist our students spend hours learning and practicing skills that new technologies have made obsolete?  School is not about just learning information any more.  It is about using information, collaborating to solve problems, and experimenting to create new understanding.  The tools we have today in our pockets make much of what we have done in the past century, well, things of the past.  If our students can do our assignments and pass our tests with out so much as doing any more than  “Googling” the answers, we are not preparing them for the world in which they live.  We need to embrace the social tools of today, give up the stage, and embrace the new role that teachers must fill today.  Every revolution in history eventually favored those who embraced change.  It is time to move on, throw away our need to hold on to what we know, and work toward creating the next generation of education.

Photo courtesy of the Hull City Council’s photostream on Flickr

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