As we open the doors to another school year we welcome back, for the last time, our seniors who are the Class of 2017 and we welcome in, for the first time, Kindergartners who are the Class of 2029. What’s interesting about this new class is they have a legitimate chance of living into the 22nd century. With a life expectancy of 81 years at birth, they will be within 9 years from the next century, if we make no medical advances to extend life. This means when we educate these students and every class after, educators need to look at what we are teaching them, how we are teaching them, and what skills will be essential for them over the next 80+ years!
So how do we address a new generation of student who will see and live in a time we know will be dramatically different than today? Here are a few suggestions:
- Teach them the power of the device. Let’s be honest, the laptop, tablet, iPad, Smartphone and every other device available to them is powerful, amazing, and important to their future. Teach them that what they hold in their hands it the most powerful learning tool ever possessed by anyone. If used correctly, it will be a learning tool, companion for a journey into the future, and a resource with limitless information and resources. Teach them that it is much more than a phone, text messenger, and sender of SnapChats!
- Help them understand the world is filled with problems that do have solutions but they take time to solve. As technology advances, we better understand the complexity of the problems that plague our world. Our students need to understand that these problems have solutions but those solutions don’t always come on the first try. Let’s develop students willing to try, fail, reorganize, try again, and ultimately find success in solving problems. I remember listening to a video of Sir Ken Robinson talk about the need for an educational paradigm shift with students because they know of one right answer, and that answer is in the back of their textbook. That’s not going to be their experience in life, so let’s not let it be their experience in school. Finding problems, trying to solve them, failing, and ultimately solving them builds problem solving skills, resilience, tenacity, and confidence.
- Expose them to the entire world, now available to them. One of the most exciting parts of being an educator today is the ability to expose our students to the world and the learning opportunities now available to them. We can bring experts into class, in person which is limited by proximity to school and time, or through technology that is limited to only your ability to schedule. Students can witness history on a TV, tablet or Smartphone that was once limited to reading about in a newspaper or watched on the nightly news. They can explore parts of the world from the comfort of a classroom, or watch simulations of history while reading about it in a textbook. The world is literally at their fingertips to learn about and from. Help them see the possibilities.
- Model the fun associated with being a connected learner. Our students will model our attitude, enthusiasm, and interest in the change in education that is intertwining with technology. Show them how much fun it can be, why you connect, and how it benefited you. For our students it’s not about if they become connected learners, it’s about when they connect and see the benefits. Don’t let them wait too long because there is so much for them to learn, see, and ENJOY!
The students of the Class of 2029 and beyond require us to look into their future and how it will be different than ours. How we approach this issue as educators is key to our and their success. Let’s take advantage of being connected educators and help them become connected learners. Try the suggestions above and let me know how it goes!
1. Source: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005148.html