Our responsibility to humanity: Teach less content

Humanity is begging us to prepare students for the difficult digital decisions in their futures, even if schools aren't built for that right now. (Wikipedia / The College Preparatory School)

Humanity is begging us to prepare students for the difficult digital decisions in their futures, even if schools aren’t built for that right now. (Wikipedia / The College Preparatory School)

For generations, content has been king in the classroom. The more information we impart, the more students will know. Information was a commodity, and teachers were the broker.

Not so anymore.

Information is an Internet search away. We don’t even have to type it anymore if we ask Siri on our iPhones or do an “OK Google” voice search.

Our students’ future is full of decisions … decisions about how to use all that data rather than how to acquire it. Whether they know it or not, I think humanity is begging us in the education world to help students with that.

“Please,” they’re asking us. “Help kids learn how to make smart decisions so they’ll lead us into this digital age responsibly.”

In essence: Quit teaching kids so much content. Teach them how to use it.

While listening to a two-part podcast series called “Screen Time” on the NPR TED Radio Hour (Part 1 / Part 2), I was reminded of these three examples of why we need kids who can handle themselves digitally:

1. Your personal and professional life can be ruined too easily. If you haven’t heard of Justine Sacco yet, check out this New York Times article on the mess she lived through. Some poorly-worded tweets to her very few followers were circulated all over Twitter. The social media furor lasted forever. She was fired and struggled to find a job.

Humanity is begging us to help kids navigate social media and to be responsible. Often, though, schools shudder to open social media and the Pandora’s Box that it can entail.

We have to stand beside kids through their social media messes, even if we’re standing in figurative mud — or a sewer — with them. Childhood and adolescence are messy. Life is messy. And I’d rather help kids learn hard lessons with my guidance during school years than endure what Justine Sacco did in adulthood.

2. Data will make supremely powerful ideas become reality. Every day, we’re generating data about ourselves. When we shop online, when we like something on Facebook, when we do online searches, we leave a digital trail of those decisions. On the podcast I mentioned earlier, they highlighted a girl who received coupons for diapers from a big-name retailer. Not such a big deal, right? She got them two weeks before she broke the news to her parents that she was pregnant.

Programmers and mathematicians can write algorithms that process all that aforementioned data into very telling predictions. From the data we leave behind, it can identify (oftentimes fairly accurately) our disposition toward work, our sexual orientation and even whether we’re pregnant. These are powerful weapons to wield that can be potentially deadly. (Imagine releasing findings on sexual orientation in a country where homosexuality is illegal.)

Humanity is begging us to prepare kids for tricky, complicated, messy digital decisions. The ones that face society now likely pale in comparison to the ones we will face as technology improves. We have to show kids that these difficult decisions exist and give them opportunities to walk through the options and consequences.

3. Our screen time is changing who we are and how we behave. Compare interpersonal communication now to a time before the massive onset of smartphones. We’re drowning in a sea of misinterpreted text messages and social media postings. (“Was the exclamation point at the end of that sentence excitement or anger?”) Neuroscience even tells us that the effect of screens on our brains affects our sleep and our mood (and maybe more!).

Humanity is begging us to guide kids through life changes that will help us stay human without a digital device fused to our brains and eyes. We don’t yet know the long-term effects of these changes, and kids should know that they have potentially serious consequences.

What happens if we stick to the curriculum and don’t get to these questions? The United States is so fixated on high-stakes testing that we’ll do almost anything to improve our scores. What are we producing that way, though … citizens who have practice in picking answers out of multiple choice questions but can’t handle the day-to-day issues in their lives? (Let alone the complicated ones.)

Here’s the problem: schools today aren’t built for this. Education is as slow an institution to change as any.

Here’s hope, though: education is slow to change, but classrooms are nimble. A motivated, dedicated teacher can create what humanity is begging for in his or her own class. And when it works, it can catch on with others that notice it and spread like wildfire.

It’s like Margaret Mead said … “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Change the word “citizens” to “educators,” and change the words “the world” to “education.”

These three examples are just the ones that stirred me to write. Certainly, there are others, and I’d love to see what you think humanity is begging us to impart to the next generation in the comments below. And whether you agree or disagree with me, I’d love to see your take on this. Please leave it in a comment also and engage in the conversation.

Humanity is begging us to change course, to teach less content and to prepare students for the uncertain future world where they’re headed. Will we heed that call?

For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

  Date Event / Event Details City / More Info
+ 01/19/2015
Western Wayne (Ind.) Schools Pershing, IN
  Full-day Seminar:Ditch That Textbook: Why and How?Private Event
+ 01/31/2015
9:00-12:00 p.m.
U. Indy's Power of Education Conference Indianapolis, IN
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook: My JourneyPublic Event
Sponsor:University of Indianapolis Student Education AssociationRegister to attend
Venue:University of Indianapolis Schwitzer Hall Basement
Indianapolis, IN
+ 02/03/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
World Languages Workshop @ Lafayette Jeff HS Lafayette, IN
  Venue:Jefferson High School
1801 S. 18th St.
Lafayette, IN 47905
765-772-4700
Private Event
+ 02/26/2015
9:00-4:05 p.m.
Indiana Conference on Learning Indianapolis, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook (et al)Public Event
Sponsor:American Student Achievement InstituteRegister to attend
Venue:Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel
2544 Executive Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46241
317-248-2481
Get more information
+ 03/18/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Fall Creek Intermediate School Workshop Fishers, IN
  Venue:Fall Creek Intermediate School
12011 Olio Road
Fishers, IN 46037
(317) 915-4220
Private Event
+ 03/19/2015
7:30-3:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) Schools Fishers, IN
  Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
+ 04/09/2015
04:00-06:00 p.m.
PVETI Social Media Workshop Rockville, IN
  Sponsor:Parke-Vermillion Education and Training Interlocal (PVETI)Private Event
Venue:Rockville High School
506 N. Beadle St.
Rockville, IN 47872
765-569-5686
+ 04/11/2015—04/12/2015
08:30-05:30 p.m.
Indiana Google Apps for Education Summit Franklin, IN
  Sponsor:EdTech TeamPublic Event
Venue:Franklin Community High School
2600 Cumberland Drive
Franklin, IN 46131
317-346-8100
Register to attend
+ 05/01/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESC Indianapolis, IN
  Venue:Central Indiana Educational Service Center
6036 Lakeside Blvd., Building A
Indianapolis, IN 46278
317-759-5555
Public Event
+ 05/08/2015—05/09/2015
Education On Air by Google for Education  
  Sponsor:Google for EducationPublic Event
+ 05/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop (CIESC)  
  Sponsor:Central Indiana Educational Service CenterRegister to attend
+ 05/11/2015—05/13/2015
Ivy Tech Community College Tech Workshop  
  Sponsor:Ivy Tech Community College of IndianaPrivate Event
+ 06/02/2015—06/03/2015
PowerED Up Conference Leopold, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Perry Central Jr/Sr HS
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
812-843-5576
+ 06/04/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
HSE Summer Learning Fair Fishers, IN
  Sponsor:Hamilton Southeastern SchoolsPrivate Event
Venue:Fishers High School
13000 Promise Road
Fishers, IN 46038
(317) 915-4290
+ 06/08/2015
Greencastle EdTech Conference Greencastle, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 06/10/2015
08:00-04:00 p.m.
Connecting the 4 C's Conference @ Mt. Vernon (Ind.) Mount Vernon, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Mount Vernon High School
700 Harriett Street
Mount Vernon, IN 47620
812-833-5136
Register to attend
+ 06/11/2015—06/12/2015
8:00-3:00 p.m.
Yorktown WeLearn Conference Yorktown, IN
  Keynote:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningRegister to attend
Venue:Yorktown High School
1100 S. County Road 575 West
Yorktown, IN 47396
(765) 759-2550
Get more information
+ 06/15/2015—06/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark Symposium Milwaukee, WI
  Venue:University School of Milwaukee
2100 West Fairy Chasm Road
Milwaukee, WI 53217
414-352-6000
Public Event
+ 06/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
eLEAD Madison County Anderson, IN
  Sponsor:CAPE of Madison CountyPublic Event
Venue:Anderson University
1100 E. 5th St.
Anderson, IN 46012
+ 06/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech Workshop Seymour, IN
  Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPublic Event
Venue:Seymour High School
1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 06/23/2015—06/24/2015
Digipalooza 2015 Scottsburg, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:Scottsburg Middle School
425 S. 3rd St.
Scottsburg, IN 47170
812-752-8926
+ 06/25/2015—06/26/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South Vermillion trAnSfoRM Conference Clinton, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
Venue:South Vermillion High School
770 Wildcat Drive
Clinton, IN 47842
765-832-3551
+ 06/27/2015
09:00-03:00 p.m.
#ReadTL15 Conference Reading, West Berkshire, UK
  Sponsor:Reading College (Reading, West Berkshire, United Kingdom)Public Event
Venue:Reading College
King's Road, Reading, West Berkshire RG1 4HJ
Reading, West Berkshire, UK
United Kingdom
+44 800 371434
Register to attend
+ 06/28/2015—07/01/2015
ISTE Conference 2015 Philadelphia, PA
  Full-day Seminar:Sharing Is Caring: Collaborative Google Apps ActivitiesPublic Event
Sponsor:International Society for Technology in EducationRegister to attend
Venue:Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
800-428-9000
Get more information
+ 07/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
USD 242 Weskan Schools Staff Development Weskan, KS
  Venue:Weskan Schools
219 Coyote Blvd.
Weskan, KS 67762
785-943-5222
Private Event
+ 07/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Northeastern Middle School Workshop Fountain City, IN
  Venue:Northeastern Middle School
7295 U.S. 27 North
Fountain City, IN 47341
(765) 847-1331
Private Event
+ 07/24/2015
08:00-3:00 p.m.
Greater Clark Connected Conference Jeffersonville, IN
  Sponsor:Greater Clark County SchoolsPublic Event
+ 07/28/2015—07/29/2015
Catching the Wave of eLearning Lafayette, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearningPublic Event
+ 07/30/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Seymour Schools Tech Workshop Seymour, IN
  Sponsor:Seymour Community SchoolsPrivate Event
Venue:Seymour High School
1350 W. 2nd St.
Seymour, IN 47274
812-522-4384
+ 08/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Idabel Public Schools  
  Sponsor:Idabel (OK) Public SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 08/13/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Palmer ISD (Texas) Palmer, TX
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Venue:Palmer Independent School District
Palmer, TX
+ 08/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Brandywine Heights Area School District Topton, PA
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATE 
Sponsor:Brandywine Heights Area School District
+ 09/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle School Clayton, IN
  Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
Private Event
+ 09/15/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ SIEC Jasper, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook Public Event
Sponsor:Southern Indiana Education Center
+ 09/23/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ WVEC West Lafayette, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
+ 09/24/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ CIESC Indianapolis, IN
  Workshop:DItch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Central Indiana Educational Service Center
+ 09/25/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of Steuben Co. (Ind.) Angola, IN
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Sponsor:MSD of Steuben County
Venue:Angola High School
350 S. John McBride Ave.
Angola, IN 46703
260-665-2186
+ 10/03/2015—10/03/2015
weLEAD Symposium Islamabad, Pakistan
  Venue:Margalla Hotel
Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan
Public Event
+ 10/06/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Anderson (Ind.) Schools Anderson, Indiana
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Sponsor:Anderson Community Schools
+ 10/07/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ Region 8 ESC Decatur, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Region 8 Educational Service Center
+ 10/08/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ NIESC Plymouth, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:Northern Indiana Educational Services Center
Venue:Christo's Banquet Center
830 Lincolnway E, Plymouth
Plymouth, IN 46563
+ 10/12/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISD Tyler, TX
  Sponsor:Tyler Indpendent School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 10/15/2015—10/16/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Indiana) Noblesville, IN
  Sponsor:Indiana Connected Educators ConferencePublic Event
Venue:Noblesville High School
18111 Cumberland
Noblesville, IN
Register to attend
+ 10/22/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Mt. Vernon CSC (Indiana) Fortville, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Sponsor:Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation
+ 11/10/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Cascade Middle School Clayton, IN
  Venue:Cascade Middle School
6423 S. County Road 200 West
Clayton, IN 46118
(317) 539-9285
Private Event
+ 11/11/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Indiana) Fishers/Noblesville, Indiana
  Full-day Seminar:Ditch That TextbookPrivate Event
Sponsor:Hamilton Southeastern Schools
+ 11/14/2015
09:00-02:30 p.m.
Northeast Literacy Retreat Fort Wayne, IN
   Public Event
+ 11/17/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook workshop @ ECESC Connersville, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:East Central Educational Service Center
+ 11/18/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ditch That Textbook @ WCIESC Greencastle, Indiana
  Workshop:Ditch That TextbookPublic Event
Sponsor:West Central Indiana Educational Service Center
+ 11/19/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Elgin Local Schools (Ohio) Elgin, OH
  Sponsor:Elgin Local SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 01/13/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Madison eLearning Madison, IN
   Private Event
+ 01/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hudson ISD (Texas) Lufkin, TX
  Venue:Hudson Indpendent School District
6735 Ted Trout Drive
Lufkin, TX 75904
936-875-3351
Private Event
+ 01/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
South Putnam Greencastle, IN
  Sponsor:South Putnam SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/03/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan MS/HS Sheridan, IN
  Sponsor:Sheridan Community SchoolsPrivate Event
+ 02/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Southern Indiana Education Center Jasper, IN
  Sponsor:Southern Indiana Education CenterPublic Event
Venue:Southern Indiana Education Center
1102 Tree Lane Drive
Jasper, IN 47546
812-482-6641
Register to attend
+ 02/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Educational Service Unit #13 Scottsbluff, NE
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Educational Service Unit #13
+ 02/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Rockford Public Schools Rockford, MI
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Sponsor:Rockford Public Schools
+ 02/24/2016—02/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference St. Charles, IL
  Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
Venue:Pheasant Run Resort and Conference Center
4051 E. Main St.
St. Charles, IL 60174
(630) 584-6300
Register to attend
+ 02/25/2016—02/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
ICE Conference (Illinois) St. Charles, IL
  Sponsor:Illinois Computing EducatorsPublic Event
+ 03/07/2016
01:15-03:30 p.m.
Mandan Public Schools Mandan, ND
  Sponsor:Mandan Public School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 03/09/2016—03/11/2016
MACUL Conference Grand Rapids, MI
  Sponsor:Michigan Association for Computer Users in LearningPublic Event
Venue:DeVos Place
303 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 742-6500
Register to attend
+ 03/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Concordia Lutheran HS Fort Wayne, IN
  Sponsor:Concordia Lutheran High SchoolPrivate Event
+ 03/23/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Westwood Community School District Sloan, IA
  Sponsor:Westwood Community School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 04/13/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Wabash Valley Education Center West Lafayette, IN
  Workshop:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Wabash Valley Education CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Wabash Valley Education Center
3061 Benton Street
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 463-1589
+ 04/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Monroe #1 BOCES (New York) Fairport, N.Y.
  Full-day Seminar:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
Sponsor:Monroe #1 BOCES
+ 04/26/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Caesar Rodney School District Camden, DE
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook Private Event
Venue:Caesar Rodney High School
239 Old North Road
Camden, DE 19934
+ 05/03/2016
Paoli Community School Corporation Paoli, IN
  Venue:To be determined
Paoli, IN
Private Event
+ 05/25/2016
09:00-09:45 a.m.
Pacific Northwest Apprenticeship Education Conference Portland, OR
  Sponsor:The Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon Building Congress and Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.Public Event
Venue:DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Conference Center
1000 NE Multnomah Street
Portland, OR
Register to attend
+ 05/31/2016
10:30-12:00pm
West Central Career Cooperative Crawfordsville, IN
  Venue:Crawfordsville Country Club
Crawfordsville, IN
Private Event
+ 06/06/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
PowerED Up Conference Leopold, IN
  Venue:Perry Central Schools
18677 Old State Road 37
Leopold, IN 47551
(812) 843-5576
Public Event
+ 06/07/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Making a Splash with Digital Learning Conference Batesville, IN
  Venue:Batesville Community School Corporation
626 N. Huntersville Road
Batesville, IN 47006
(812) 934-2194
Public Event
+ 06/08/2016—06/09/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Ignite Your Superpower Lafayette, IN
  Venue:Sunnyside Intermediate School
530 N 26th St
Lafayette, IN 47904
(765) 771-6100
Public Event
+ 06/13/2016—06/14/2015
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Summer Spark (Wisconsin) Milwaukee, WI
  Sponsor:University School of MilwaukeePublic Event
+ 06/15/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
REMAST Conference (South Dakota) Brookings, S.D.
  Sponsor:South Dakota State Noyce Scholarship ProgramPublic Event
+ 06/20/2016
Indianapolis Sister Cities Int'l Conference Indianapolis, IN
  Keynote:Connecting Your Classroom to the WorldPublic Event
Sponsor:Indianapolis Sister Cities InternationalRegister to attend
Venue:Covenant Christian High School
7525 W. 21st St.
Indianapolis, IN 46214
+ 06/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Western North Dakota ESA Dickinson, ND
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATEPublic Event
+ 06/26/2016—06/29/2016
ISTE Conference Denver, CO
  Venue:Colorado Convention Center
700 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Public Event
+ 07/12/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
MSD of Martinsville Martinsville, IN
  Sponsor:MSD of MartinsvillePrivate Event
+ 07/13/2016—07/14/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Pulaski County Special School District Little Rock, AR
  Sponsor:Pulaski County Special School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 07/18/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Sheridan/Hamilton Heights Sheridan, IN
   Public Event
+ 07/19/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Launching INquiry Fishers, IN
  Venue:Fishers High School College & Career Academy
13000 Promise Rd
Fishers, IN 46038
Public Event
+ 07/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Blended Learning Summit Salina, KS
  Sponsor:Smoky Hill Education Service CenterPublic Event
Venue:Smoky Hill Education Service Center
605 E. Crawford
Salina, KS 67401
785-825-9185
+ 07/21/2016
08:30-04:00 p.m.
iPadpaloozaEastTX Longview, TX
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Public Event
Sponsor:Region 7 Education Service CenterRegister to attend
Venue:Pine Tree High School
900 Northwest Drive
Longview, TX 75604
(903) 295-5031
Get more information
+ 07/22/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Tyler ISD Tyler, TX
  Sponsor:Tyler ISD 
+ 07/25/2016—07/26/2016
E3 Technology Conference Warsaw, IN
  Venue:Warsaw High School
1 Tiger Lane
Warsaw, IN 46580
(574) 371-5098
Public Event
+ 08/01/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Catholic High School New Iberia, LA
  Sponsor:Catholic High SchoolPrivate Event
Venue:Catholic High School
1301 de La Salle Drive
New Iberia, LA 70560
+ 08/05/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools Partnership Fort Wayne, IN
  Sponsor:Fort Wayne Lutheran Schools PartnershipPrivate Event
+ 08/09/2016
Southwest School Corporation Sullivan, IN
  Venue:Southwest School Corporation
110 North Main Street
Sullivan, IN 47882
(812) 268-6311
Private Event
+ 08/11/2016
Groesbeck ISD Tech Conference Groesbeck, TX
  Keynote:Ditch That Textbook!Private Event
Venue:Groesbeck Independent School District
1202 N. Ellis
Groesbeck, TX 76642
(254) 729-4100
+ 08/15/2016
Beggs Public Schools Beggs, OK
  Venue:Beggs Public Schools
1201 West 9th
Beggs, OK 74421
(918) 267-3628
Private Event
+ 08/16/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Etoile ISD Etoile, TX
  Sponsor:Etoile ISDPrivate Event
+ 08/17/2016
8:00-3:00 pm
Tech Academy  
   Private Event
+ 08/22/2016—08/23/2016
West Central School District Hartford, SD
  Venue:West Central School District
705 E. 2nd St.
Hartford, SD 57033
(605) 528-3217
Private Event
+ 08/24/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Walled Lake Consolidated School District  
   Public Event
+ 08/25/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
Hillsboro School District Hillsboro, OR
  Sponsor:Hillsboro School DistrictPrivate Event
+ 08/29/2016
8:00am-3:00pm
Service Learning School District Detroit, MI
  Sponsor:Service Learning School District 
+ 09/16/2016
New Prairie High School New Carlisle, IN
  Venue:New Praire High School
New Carlisle, IN
Private Event
+ 09/19/2016
Big Walnut Local Schools Sunbury, OH
  Workshop:The Digital PIRATE: Tech Like a PIRATEPrivate Event
Venue:Big Walnut Local Schools
36 Harrison St
Sunbury, OH 43074
(740) 965-3205
+ 09/20/2016
08:00-03:00 p.m.
NH Best Practices in Curriculum, Assessment and Assessment Conference Concord, NH
  Sponsor:New Hampshire School Administrators AssociationPublic Event
Venue:Grappone Conference Center
Concord, NH
+ 10/12/2016—10/13/2016
Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency Betterdorf, IA
  Sponsor:Mississippi Area Bend Education AgencyPrivate Event

 

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9 thoughts on “Our responsibility to humanity: Teach less content

  1. Nice idea, but the PARCC, SAT, ACT exams actually want students to know how to do Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Statistics, Probability, Measurement, Number Systems, Theory of Sets, etc.

    So, we have to teach the tools in detail before we can put them to use.

    • Thanks for adding to the discussion, Jim. Sure, we can teach the tools … there’s nothing wrong with that. I think when we’re focused on just the tools (especially in the face of looming tests like PARCC, SAT, ACT), we miss out on some of our most important teaching opportunities. Also, I know (as I mentioned in the post) the education system isn’t built for this “teach less content” concept I point out in the post. We can continue to push for a more relevant education for students. Hence the Margaret Mead post … be the small group of thoughtful, committed citizens that wants to change the world.

  2. Sure, tests still expect us to teach content, but REAL LIFE expects us to have skills. I had to deal with a mouse in my house this weekend. Maybe not a big thing to you, but it was my first time in this situation. Did I have any idea how to solve this before Saturday? Not beyond the general concept of having played a game of Mousetrap. After my initial freak out I focused: Did I see something? What did I just see? I located a primary resource: called my parents. I compared multiple sources: reading reviews of different mouse traps online. Formed a plan and executed it, with the result being the mouse is now dead.

    • It’s been my intent since this site started more than two years ago to offer two things: ways to teach with less reliance on the textbook AND ways to break away from old textbook mentalities that are becoming outdated and irrelevant. You’re right — we do need to prepare our kids for the Internet, and we do that by walking side by side with them through digital work in class AND their digital lives outside of school (as well as the non-digital versions of both of those). The realities of life will be drastically different for students in the future, and it’s our job to help students navigate them.

  3. This is nonsense and a wonderful way to head down the path to Idiocracy. Humans need to operate from a wealth of knowledge acquired the hard way – through reading the great works and internalizing them. Then they can move onto how to use them (which, frankly, doesn’t need to be taught – it happens naturally). The idea that we can just look up facts on a screen and be intelligent is farcical and dangerous.

    • Simone, you’re exactly right … we do need to operate from a wealth of knowledge acquired the hard way. As a teacher who has worked in public schools for more than a decade, I’ve seen too much piled on the shoulders of students and teachers — more and more content, longer high-stakes testing, etc. We end up skimming superficially rather than digging deep, and we miss out on the opportunities to help students learn these valuable life lessons.

      I’m not sure if you have any experience in education, but application of knowledge does NOT happen naturally. Students, from young children to adult learners, often need help in applying what they’ve learned, whether in a digital realm or not.

      Like it or not, information is at our fingertips. You’re right … there’s a big difference between finding information and being intelligent. The world has changed, and knowing what to do with that information is king right now and will continue to be into the future. “The illiterate of the 21st century won’t be those who can’t read and write, rather those who can’t learn, unlearn and relearn.” — Toffler

  4. In this day and age, especially considering where education and technology are going, I think that it should be required for teachers to educate students on media literacy. Whether educators want to accept this fact or not, we no longer live in a print-centric world. We have access to an endless supply of knowledge, whether it be text, photographs, or film, at the tip of our fingers. And if we want to target the “digital natives” that we now teach, then we should be utilizing these resources. Today, being literate no longer means just being able to read and write. It also means being able to understand digital media, blogs, wikis, and other new technologies that our students are using in their everyday lives. Just because our students have access to the internet and other media, it does not mean that they possess the skills to effectively analyze and evaluate the technologies that they are using or the information they come across. We need to teach our students how they can interpret and use the information they come across. We need to teach our students how to determine if the information they come across is manipulation or propaganda because students are constantly being persuaded and influenced by media. Most importantly, teaching media literacy offers a great way to develop student’s critical thinking skills while being relevant. Careers in technology are growing rapidly and will continue to grow in years to come. They will need these media literacy skills in order to prepare them for careers in a competitive global economy. Instead of teaching less content, let’s integrate these skills into all subject areas. Let’s teach our students to be 21st century learners. If today’s educators don’t teach our youth these skills, then who will?