10 steps to move education out of the industrial revolution


Teaching | Monday, April 8, 2013

10 steps to move education out of the industrial revolution

Industrial revolution

The industrial revolution is over. The digital revolution is here.

It’s time our classrooms reflect that.

Listening to some of Sir Ken Robinson’s (@sirkenrobinson) talks recently has me thinking about how antiquated our schools’ practices are. This clip from education documentary “We Are The People We’ve Been Waiting For” sums it up quite nicely.

The bells. The rows of desks. The quiet seatwork. The teacher at the chalkboard. It looks like my parents’ education. My grandparents’ education.

We can do so much better. We have such great tools and research available to us.

Here are 10 steps that schools – and our individual classrooms – can take to ditch the textbook mindset and step into relevance in today’s world:

1. Abolish age-based grouping. Students learn at such different speeds in such different ways. Why tie them to peers based on their birthdays when that has no basis on their academic progress?

2. Throw out rote memorization. This generation has Google. Can’t remember the capital of Cambodia? Look it up on your smartphone. (Phnom Penh, by the way.)

3. Teach children to collaborate. Employers often cite communication and people skills as a top priority in hiring, not sitting at a desk and staying quiet.

4. Ditch that textbook. Paper-based books are often outdated from the moment they’re published. Students have access to more, better-updated information online.

5. Create Vicki Davis’s “flat classroom.” Ours is a global society. Digital communications break down walls and enable world communication like never before. Utilize it.

[RELATED: Motivating our students]

6. Embrace digital devices. They put vast information power in our pockets and hands. Leaving them in student lockers is not the answer.

7. Minimize lecture. There are great, fascinating lecturers out there (I work across the hall from one). But “sage on the stage” all the time makes students passive recipients. That won’t serve them well in today’s world.

8. Teach students how to learn online. Katie Regan (@katieregan88) – the “teacher who doesn’t teach” – is a pro at this. She teaches students to find EVERYTHING they need online and makes them do it.

9. Encourage 24-hour learning. Students don’t just learn between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. And they shouldn’t just learn what’s in the curriculum. 20-percent/genius hour projects let students learn what they’re passionate about, not what we force them to learn.

10. Reinvent the wheel. Educators’ teaching can’t become stagnant. As the world changes and our content changes, we must, too. Learn what’s new in your content area. Find new ways to engage students.

This isn’t what my classroom or my school looks like. But I’m aspiring to it, which, I think, qualifies me for No. 10.

Think of the kind of education we could offer our children. Think of the kind of world we could create.

What other steps could we take to move from an industrial-revolution mindset to a digital-revolution mindset? Leave us a comment!

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