Tomorrow I’ll be in Winnetka, Ill. speaking to teachers at New Trier High School on what the Read/Write Web means in terms of classroom teaching. I really love the opportunity to speak about all of this obviously, and tomorrow should be even more fun since Douglas Rushkoff is doing the morning presentation. He’s always been someone whose work I’ve admired, and I’ve actully taught from his books in my Media Literacy class. I always use his “Society of Authorship” quote in my presentations. So it’s another opportunity to learn as well as to teach, and that’s what really fuels my passion for all of this.
I’ve written a lot about why I think teaching is going to have to change in the coming years. And as Alan and David and others say, it’s not so much about the tools it’s about the information we can connect to using the tools. Provided we have access, we’re not the best source of knowledge in our subjects any longer. We’re no longer the only teachers our students can have on any particular subject. We’re not the only audience for our students’ work. We’re no longer limited by the four walls of our classrooms. And we’re moving toward a time when collaboration will be central to our practice. All of this requires that we cede much of the control over learning to our students, that we act more as connectors to relevant information than distributors of it, that we model the effective consumption and creation of content, and that we focus on the basic skills and ideas of our disciplines in the context of a more individualized, inquiry based model that develops passionate, or as Alan calls them “fearless” learners.
Today, David writes eloquently about the barriers to moving to such a teaching model, specifically the high stakes testing requirements that are in place today. And of the fear that teachers express that in a few years, education will just be a matter of “plugging in” and standing aside. That will only happen if we forget that good teaching is much more than delivering curriculum. As David writes:
But teaching children involves adults leading them by the hand into their future, fully aware of the the tools and times that we live in, and availing ourselves of all the opportunities and responsibilities.
In a connected world filled with an overwhelming amount of information and sources, good teaching will be as important as ever to help students make sense of it all and to help them become independent lifelong learners.