(Cross-posted to “The Pulse“) One of the most challenging pieces of figuring out how to move education forward in a systemic way is an “unlearning curve” that we teachers and educators have to go through to even see the possibilities that lay before us. So much of our traditional thinking about personal learning and classroom practice is being challenged by our ability to publish and connect and collaborate primarily because of the opportunities afforded by the Read/Write Web. For instance, in a world where literally any place can be a classroom, we have to unlearn the comforts of four walls that we’ve become accustomed to. When we can share our work with wide audiences, we need to unlearn the idea that student writing and projects are simply ways to assess what they know.
There is no curriculum for unlearning, and, of course, in many ways it’s simply learning to see things differently or to at least be open to it. To me at least, the key is attempting to understand how these technologies can transform our own learning practice (and, I would guess, our unlearning practice as well.) If we can get started on that road, it can become much easier to re-envision our classrooms and our schools.
So, with that brief introduction, here are 10 things that I think we need to unlearn:
We need to unlearn the idea that we are the sole content experts in the classroom, because we can now connect our kids to people who know far more than we do about the material we’re teaching.
We need to unlearn the premise that we know more than our kids, because in many cases, they can now be our teachers as well.
We need to unlearn the idea that learning itself is an event. In this day and age, it is a continual process.
We need to unlearn the strategy that collaborative work inside the classroom is enough and understand that cooperating with students from around the globe can teach relevant and powerful negotiation and team-building skills.
We need to unlearn the idea that every student needs to learn the same content when really what they need to learn is how to self-direct their own learning.
We need to unlearn the notion that our students don”t need to see and understand how we ourselves learn.
We need to unlearn our fear of putting ourselves and our students “out there” for we’ve proven we can do it in safe, relevant and effective ways.
We need to unlearn the practice that teaches all students at the same pace. Is it any wonder why so many of our students love to play online games where they move forward at their own pace?
We need to unlearn the idea that we can teach our students to be literate in this world by continually blocking and filtering access to the sites and experiences they need our help to navigate.
We need to unlearn the premise that real change can happen just by rethinking what happens inside the school walls and understand that education is now a community undertaking on many different levels.
Certainly, there are many others, and I’m sure you have your own unlearning ideas; feel free to add.