| WHAT I JUST LEARNED:
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Scene outside the School
It is a privilege to be back in Hong Kong and especially to be working with international school educators. I certainly wish that I had known about you when I was starting my career as a teacher.
Of course teaching, learning, and the nature of education have all changed. There are lots of reasons for it, an at this writing I have not yet decided which reason I will be expressing to the educators at Sha Tin College. I will say that today we are being forced, by new conditions, to rethink education and even what it means to be educated. There are three reasons for this, or three conditions that are brand new, and converging on the institution of education and most other institutions and aspects of modern societies.
Today, we are
- Preparing a new generation of learners,
- Within a new information environment,
- For a future that we can not clearly describe.
Our children have grown up in an environment that is defined, NOT by technology, but by information. They are surrounded by enformation and they play with information. They communicate information. The students we are teaching today write and read more than just about any other generation in human history. Now it’s not Hermann Melville, and they’re not writing a lot of essays, but they are learning to use language and logic in ways that were completely foreign in my time.
The nature of that information has changed as well. It’s changed in…
- What it looks like,
- In what we look at to view it,
- How we find it,
- Where we go to find it,
- What we can do with it,
- and how we communicate it.
Information is increasingly networked, digital and abundant, and each of these new qualities to today’s information environments has profound implications with what it means to be literate today. It re-spells the 3Rs, into the ability to.
- Expose what is true (not merely read it),
- Employ information to accomplish goals (not merely calculate numbers on paper),
- and Express ideas compellingly (not merely write a coherent paragraph).
There is a forth E in this spelling, the ability and habit of using and working information within an Ethical context. I would double-click on the word habit. It is no longer enough to simply assure that our students have gained literacy skills. Today, the crucial task is assuring that they are in the habit of using information effectively, responsibly and ethically.
The importance of the third converging condition is simple. The question becomes, “What do children need to be learning today, to be ready for an unpredictable future?” ..and the answer is simple. The best thing we can be teaching our children today, is how to teach themselves. My generation was taught how to be taught. We need to shift now, and teach children how to teach themselves.
In a true sense, this is about literacy. That literacy skills today is not longer about learning to read a newspaper and follow instructions. Today, you learn to read so that you can learn what you need to know, in order to do what you need to day — right now.