I attend ISTE for professional reasons because I develop digital content resources for students and teachers. I attend ISTE as a way to learn from the masters: from the teachers who are really cutting edge, who are leading the way in terms of building 21st century classrooms.
This year, I couldn’t help looking at ISTE as a parent, too.
My kids go to great schools, but they are schools in a very different places than the ones I hear discussed at ISTE. I go to ISTE and hear all these amazing, awesome teachers and what they’re doing in the classroom. I hear from the innovative administrators who are encouraging their teachers to think differently. I then think about the situations where my kids are at: no phones in school, slow adoption of collaborative tools such as Google Apps, a few laptop carts or overbooked computer labs.
My kids – and all kids today – deserve to experience a 21st century classroom. As I’ve thought about this, I have created a list of things I think kids deserve.
- My kids deserve to go to a school that prepares them for their future – not for the future as we saw it 50 years ago.
- My kids deserve to work with teachers and schools who are willing to step aside as the expert and become a guide.
- My kids deserve teachers that become co-learners.
- My kids deserve to learn in a place that understands that students don’t all learn the same way – that kids have different learning styles. Just because the teacher learns best by reading doesn’t mean my child does. All kids benefit from learning by using different modalities.
- My kids deserve to use tools that they use in the rest of their life. At home, my kids use the internet to find facts and resources. They use cameras and phones to communicate their ideas in many different ways. They deserve to be able to do that in school – and not in a lab. (See this excellent post, “Snapshot of a Modern Learner” by Mike Fisher.)
- My kids deserve to be taught how to access and analyze information the way the world is moving, not the way the world used to be.
- My kids deserve to be taught to be collaborative, like they are in the rest of their life, and like most of us do our work. My kids are social, they expect to be able to communicate with their friends and work together. Empower them to do this. Don’t call it cheating.
- My kids deserve access to their learning 24/7, wherever they are. Make their class materials available. Make their assignments available online – not just when they’re in class.
- My kids deserve to be able to express their learning in ways that fit them. Why can’t they do a documentary? Create a digital story? Design an infographic? There’s no reason that the traditional ways of expressing knowledge are the only ways.
- My kids deserve to learn skills that are in no way related to taking a standardized test. They deserve learning that isn’t just focused on that test.
- Above all, my kids deserve to find their passion. They deserve to be in a school that introduces them to a variety of subjects, of learning and of skills. They deserve to be allowed to explore, be curious, try new things without the fear of a test or a score limiting them.
I plan to take these concepts to the school board and administrators. I want to build a positive relationship where these concepts can be discussed.
My thanks to the many ISTE teachers, administrators and bloggers who have modeled this type of education with your passion and curiosity. You’ve helped me develop these concepts and have helped give me the confidence to ask for these things for my kids – and all kids. You have set an example for others. Thank you.