Tom Whitby writes a fine and focused, albeit lengthy blog in his most recent release: “What is the Goal of Education.” Mr. Whitby has been blogging for many years and has many followers. He has written many pertinent and helpful educational blogs. Teachers have found them pertinent in improving their craft and improving their students’ learning.
Mr. Whitby calls his “ My Island View ” blogs “Disconnected Utterances.” RE@L politely disagrees. His many blogs are clearly connected utterances!
While his topics may vary considerably, they all are well-connected to teaching and learning betterment.
That is our RE@L goal too. We added a mission statement that drives what we believe and do: “For the Love of Learning.”
Mr. Whitby writes: “As a long-time educator, I am no longer convinced that we are adequately preparing our children with the needed skills to live, survive and thrive in their future life of that real world environment.” He adds the following excerpted observations:
“I also question whether we, as education professionals, have been truly prepared for our present environment. Many of us grew up in a world where information came in printed form vetted by publishers. A world where TV producers vetted information produced for the airwaves. A world where opposing political views, for the most part, were discussed with words and not weapons.
In an age of instant access, are we skilled enough to analyze and understand what is being delivered to us second by second? Are we prepared to critically think about all that we are bombarded with daily? Are we prepared to accept that, just because things worked well in the past, they may need to be changed in this new world environment? What was once “tried and true” may now be tried, but irrelevant.
If the educators of our youth are struggling with skills required to strive and thrive in this, their own world today, how do they prepare children to learn, and adapt in the world in which these kids will be expected to live. A world that will advance even faster and more intensely than it is now. Technology only moves forward never back.”
RE@L believes Tom Whitby is right about our tools. If the tool keeps changing, often for the better in the ways we use it, so also must the users change in their ability to use it. It makes no sense to use technology to prepare students who have not learned how to learn with technology.
Mr. Whitby is further right on target with the needed change of teacher focus and the causative, better results for K12 learners. Note that we did not say better results for classrooms, or schools or districts. Yet, those are what most of standardized measures claim to measure.
Instead of relying on better results for schools, or districts, we at REAL are committed to the academic success of each and every learner. We believe what we need in K12 is more of “show us what you know and how you will continue to grow.
Mr. Whitby closes with this keen, closing observation:
“Is this really the world that we are preparing them for? Are we stressing their curiosity? Are we challenging them to be critical thinkers?….Are we allowing them to make mistakes and learn and adapt from them without consequences of punishment?…..
We need to get our students in better position to make decisions in their own learning earlier on in the process and not assume that skill on graduation day. They need a greater voice in their own learning in order to own it before they leave our influence. They need to understand how to direct their curiosity to answer their own questions, to develop their own path, to address their own problems.
We as educators need to shift the education dynamic of teaching kids what to learn to teaching kids how to learn. …..Their world will come with all new rules and new problems that they will need to learn how to deal with in new ways unknown to us, their educators. Our goal should and must be to make our students self-motivated learners with all the skills needed to do that in their own world with their own tools for accessing information.“
RE@L adds: Take a look at this student-produced video 30 years ago. Click on the graphic to the left. No, the school wasn’t perfect, but it was far, far better than what’s still happening today. We are still wasting our time, energy, and funding on the same old-same old.
Here’s the crux of the issue: Despite the fact that revolutionary change is needed, our 100,000+ schools and 15,000+ districts don’t seem to want it. Too many remain dedicated to driving up standardized test scores, trying to prove all students are above average. We want each student to exploit their strengths and manage their own improvement.
That’s what we and The Saturn School of Tomorrow focused on over 30 years ago. In recognition of our efforts, President George H. W. Bush visited us and we both were proud to be a part of showing our successes. Click the photo at the right to learn more.
In closing: At the end of your teaching career, students from your good old days may invite you to their class reunions. You may well be be toasted and thanked for what you did.
It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that your commitment and efforts have earned the accolades, whether heard or not.
That’s the goal we have as teachers, educators and RE@L: “For the Love of Learning.”