What’s left to bring?

Schools ask students to bring their own school supplies, bring their own questions for inquiry, and bring their own devices on which to research these questions.

What’s left to bring? Why is there a need for schools, and for that matter, teachers?

As an educator, I would suggest there is a greater need for schools and teachers now than at any other point in recent history. Schools are essential learning communities – safe places to learn about and to explore the digital landscape, to learn and to practise healthy relationships, and to learn how to engage in meaningful and transferable inquiry.

However, I also feel there exists the greatest need for schools, teachers, and districts to clearly explain what collectively they are bringing to education. When parents and students are asked to bring more, we should be able to explain our ‘more’ with great clarity.

So as a teacher, what do I bring? I realize that it is easy to identify what I cannot bring:

  • In a digital world where facts can be found in a nanosecond search, I cannot bring my factual knowledge from my undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • I cannot bring shared experience, for the elementary classroom in which I learned is so very different from today’s classroom.
  • I cannot bring digital prowess for I am really just becoming a digital resident. (See David White’s thinking: Visitors vs. Residents – the inspiration for my blog’s name)

So what can I bring?

  • I can bring passion, openness, flexibility, joy, creativity, a willingness to take risks/to innovate… all very necessary and relevant things for successful teaching… but one could argue these are character traits. Where are the hard skills that can be taught? Skills that can be transferred?

Of course, I see the value of character education and the importance of positive role models who can inspire others in many intangible ways. Yet, I also see the value in clearly outlining how we are teaching the 21st Century skills that move beyond factual information and the medium through which this information is obtained.

  • What does it mean to think critically? What are the tools am I using to teach critical thinking?
  • What is metacognition and how am I helping students to think about their thinking?
  • How am I helping students to formulate their own questions and to think deeply?
  • In what ways am I teaching ‘web wisdom’? How am I teaching students to use the web to: research, judge, critique, inspire, question, engage?
  • How am I using community resources and local contexts to make learning more relevant and meaningful?

I don’t have the answers for all of these –  I hope this blog will serve as a place to discuss and debate these skills and more.

What do you think schools should bring?

2 thoughts on “What’s left to bring?

  1. “Schools ask students to bring their own school supplies, bring their own questions for inquiry, and bring their own devices on which to research these questions…When parents and students are asked to bring more, we should be able to explain our ‘more’ with great clarity.”

    And we need to answer with great clarity why we are asking students and parents to bring these things; after all, parents don’t have shared experience with their children’s elementary experience either. Things have changed and are changing, and explaining change, and better yet involving parents in it, is key.

  2. I agree – involvement is key – and as educators and administrators we need to work diligently to include parents in understanding, navigating, and influencing this changing educational landscape.

    But parental involvement is not always easy and not always authentic. Not easy due to a variety of factors: Parents challenged by work/life/school schedules, parent nights/pac meetings/spcs often include same small group of parents, and the process of parent input not always viewed as participatory. By this I mean that Involving parents in the process of change needs to be authentic involvement; not just a forum at which to share ideas, but an engagement process that is reiterative, fuels further discussions, and re-engages rather than reports. This takes time, commitment to the process, and ultimately trust – that’s where we need to begin.

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