What my Kids Deserve, Part 2

After attending the recent TIES conference, I have updated my list of things my kids – and all kids – deserve. I’ve kept almost everything from my earlier post. I’m just adding more!

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 go to a school that uses current tools and techniques. As one teacher said, you wouldn’t take your kid to a pediatrician that used 1970s tools. Remember, the pencil was once considered a radical idea.
  • 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 teachers who are willing to learn new things and new ways of doing things. That’s the way the world works. Just because it worked 20, 10 or even 5 years ago doesn’t mean it’s the best way now.
  • 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 have their learning assessed in ways that are applicable to the world outside of education. The world does not function with multiple choice tests. The world relies on oral and written communication, on visual expression, on analysis, problem identification and problem solving. It does not ever require a multiple choice test.
  • My kids deserve to learn higher level thinking skills, not rote fact memorization. The amount of information available is more than a human brain can contain. We have Google, smartphones, computers. To quote a teacher, “If you can find the answer to a test question on Google, it’s not a good test question.” Students need to be taught to find and analyze information –  NOT memorize it.
  • 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. I have never taken a standardized test in my working life.
  • 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.