Educating For The Past, Present or Future?

If we genuinely want to educate our young people to think critically, and be citizens of the world, why do so many of us  insist on teaching to the past, instead of to the future.  If you are an educator, and don’t consider yourself first and foremost, a learner, perhaps you should reexamine your mindset.  We are navigating the Technology/Informational Age which requires constant learning and upgrading.  We become behind just by teaching the present.  I realize it is hard to wrap your mind around.  Being hard doesn’t make it any less true. There was a time when getting an education was dependent on schools.  Sources of knowledge were limited, and except for the wealthy elite, students had to rely on public institutions to access it.  That is no longer the case.  We can access anything, anywhere, anytime, and we DO!  Yet, walking into most classrooms today means walking back in time where the use of your personal electronic device should be put away so as not to distract from the teacher’s lesson plan, Think about that for just a minute.  Everything you want to know can be accessed using your tablet, laptop, or phone. This device that we are never without except in the classroom. There is not a lack of access to information anymore.  Everyone has access!  There is a lack of evaluating information. There is a lack of knowing how to use that to which we have access.  Is taking that access away really what we should be doing?  Seems a bit ironic. If schools wish to stay relevant as institutions of learning, we must realize to teach is to be in a constant state of learning, not comfort.

  • Do you feel a sense of panic when the technology you use changes?
  • Do you avoid integrating technology into your teaching?
  • Do you fear your students know more than you do about using technology?
  • Do you just fear changing?

The proof that we, as educators, have not yet joined the Information Age is any continued discussion on how to use technology in education.  When we learn how to manage our classrooms having the same freedom of access as the local Starbucks or McDonald’s during “lessons” we will know that we are where we need to be.

What Do Our Ripples Say About Us

Do you ever think about the number of choices we make everyday?  Perhaps we don’t think much about it. Maybe we should. I contend that every single choice we make has a ripple effect.  That ripple can be positive or negative.

Recently, I was having dinner with a friend who is a teacher.  As it turned out our server was a past student.  He gave us an update on what he had been doing since graduation.  Before leaving he shared one of his best memories of high school.  He came to my friend’s class and she told him he did not look well.  He confirmed he didn’t.  During class he put his head down and subsequently fell asleep.  When he awoke he was surprised to find it was the next period and a different class of students surrounded him.  My friend told him he was sick and needed to go to the nurse so he could go home.  He told us he couldn’t believe that she had allowed him to sleep in class and not be in trouble.  It was the nicest thing a teacher ever did for him.

As he left the table my friend said, of all the things I do for students, I am remembered for letting someone sleep during class when he was sick.  I said what better way is there to be remembered than as caring and kind.  A choice. A ripple that was felt years later.

Last night I was at a high school basketball game.  I heard someone call my name.  I turned and recognized one of my students (I do not know him well, in fact, I do not know his name).  He had a money in his hand and asked if I had $2.  I thought he may have wanted something from concessions and did not have enough money.  I said I might and turned to check when I remembered I did not have my purse.  I told him and said what do you need?  He didn’t have enough money to get into the game.  I was going to my car to get the money when the person working the gate overheard us talking. She took half the entry fee and let him into the game.  As she stamped his hand she said, I just want you to remember this, when you get a chance to help someone that is short on money in the future, I want you to do it.  A choice in hopes of creating a ripple.

As for me I felt happy.  I must have made choices with my interactions with students that gave this one the confidence to ask me for help, even if it was just $2.   A simple situation such as this makes me feel that I am getting it right.  I know it is impossible for one principal to have a personal relationship with 2,000 students.  The choices I make each and everyday when interacting with them create ripples.

It is the unintended consequences of choices, the simplest of choices, made on a daily basis that have the greatest ripple effect on those around us, and therefore, ourselves.  It is the smallest of pebbles dropped in the water, again and again, rather than a onetime boulder, that ultimately define our impact.  The best part?  We have a lifetime of pebbles to choose from.  If we choose the wrong one we get another chance to get it right.  If we have the awareness to do so.