When and Where?
Several days ago, I found this (what I’d consider to be fairly old now) YouTube video called “What Does It Mean To Teach In The 21st Century?” In it, the authors listed the following skills and asked, “Where do we expect them to learn the skills they need to be successful on the Internet?”
The skills were: paraphrasing, attributing, subscribing, editing, tagging, tweeting, linking, experimenting, reflecting, commenting, searching, posting, locating, linking, integrating, networking, bookmarking, mashing, uploading
The list made sense to me.
They further added these as work kids need to be engaged in as part of their learning:
gather and use data, talk about reliable sources, publish and evaluate work, collaborate, store work and reflect on their progress
Yep, again, made sense to me–although I could add a few.
This morning on Twitter while participating in a tweetchat, #rechat, @ehvickery, as a connected teacher getting her kids to be connected learners, listed these as some of her expectations for learners: Curation – Verify/Trust Info – Various Perspectives – Determine Value to Meet Need – Share & Filter
And my first thought, looking at these lists, was the question from that video…where do we expect students to learn these skills?
Emily’s list was very similar to the ones on the video, and ones I value. But I don’t see kids in my school using these skills much in contexts that matter to them…and I think all schools, including mine, should have conversations around where and when these skills should be taught and learned–by both adults and students.
As I look at those lists, I can’t imagine how some teachers can teach those things to kids–they don’t do them themselves online, so how can they teach them? Heck, I’m not even comfortable teaching all of them and I am considered to be a pretty connected educator, tech-savvy and experienced online.
Too often we rely on others to teach these skills–the library teacher, a computer teacher, a technology integrator–and we assume the kids have them.
But, let’s look at them in the context of our educational past, and think about going to workshops I’m sure many of us have attended–‘Writing Across The Curriculum,’ ‘Integrated Units,’ ‘Reading to Learn in Science‘ (or SS), ‘Writing in Math Class,’ etc. We haven’t done a good job of integrating those topics–Math teachers still teach math. English teachers still teach reading and writing. Our 3 R’s are still, in most places, isolated skills, taught as distinctly separate subjects, despite the habits of mind that go across the disciplines.
And so, how can we expect these skills–“the ones kids will need to be successful on the Internet”–to be integrated into various lessons? Don’t we need a separate place and time for them to be taught (by a separate person trained to teach all of them), so we can hold kids accountable for using them?
Well, I don’t think so. Thursday in our 5th grade math class, Betsy (@bagee1) and I had kids share their various ways of solving an elapsed time problem and then we held a discussion about which ones worked, which were efficient, which took more time, which were clearer to understand, etc.
In doing so, weren’t we “determining value to meet needs” and looking at “various perspectives,” as Emily was quoted above? And, weren’t we, when we finished and asked kids to decide which was best for them, asking them to “filter” out the less effective ways?
The point here, is that these skills aren’t necessarily limited to technology or the Internet. They go across disciplines in many ways and are ones we need in math, or writing, or reading, or science, or….the list could go on and on. But do we? Do we teach them in ways that allow kids to see them across disciplines–or think about and use them in context of the Internet and what they do there?
Do we teach in ways that allow kids to learn about themselves as learners and become better at learning? Have we become so attuned to teaching our subjects for the test score that we don’t teach learning any more? Isn’t school where kids come to learn?
So should our conversations as teachers, our faculty discussions, be about these trans-discipline skills? Shouldn’t we talk about how we can teach paraphrasing, attributing, subscribing, editing, tagging, tweeting, linking, experimenting, reflecting, commenting, searching, posting, locating, linking, integrating, networking, bookmarking, mashing, uploading not just in the subject they fit most logically and traditionally, or only in the context of the Internet, but across disciplines? And shouldn’t we be explicit in naming them when we use them in various subjects, especially if our subjects remain silos?
Aren’t those the conversations we should be having as we think about when and where these “skills we need to be successful on the Internet” should be taught? Shouldn’t we be talking about how to get out of our silo-ed classrooms, and how to use and recognize and talk about skills and habits of mind across disciplines? Shouldn’t we be teaching compliance less and thinking more? Shouldn’t we do less teaching kids how to play school and please the teacher and give them more opportunities to learn like real learners learn?
After all, we can’t teach what we don’t think about and we can’t collaboratively think about what we don’t talk about. So when and where do those conversations occur?