Monday, November 23, 2009

21st C students

21st Century Students was the topic of the recent conference I attended (Headmistresses Association of the East - we did not arrive on broomsticks!) The first speaker was Michael Wesch, a professor of Anthropology at Kansas State U If you visit this site and read or view his presentations, you will find exciting food for thought!

His premise is that the social media revolution is changing the face of education - do we need classroom walls when the world - through wiki's, Facebook, You Tube, etc - is literally at students' fingertips? His perspective is from a university setting, but has profound ramifications for educators in all areas.

Because information of every kind is so easily available, Wesch says we need to adapt, organizing education around questions, not mastery of facts. He says,

We have had our why's, how's, and what's upside-down, focusing too much on what should be learned, then how, and often forgetting the why altogether. In a world of nearly infinite information, we must first address why, facilitate how, and let the what generate naturally from there.

In progressive education, and especially here at Parker, we organize learning around the "why" of things. It is what motivates students and makes them life-long learners.

Social media offers so many ways to expand learning, as it gives students a wide - worldwide - audience. Using these tools in school also gives us the opportunity to teach about the ethical use of social media.

The workshop was energizing for me - I am bringing back many ideas for our teachers and we will continue to discuss, experiment and refine our use of questions, social media, and our students as "teachers" constructing and communicating knowledge in 21st C ways.

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