We live in amazing times.
This time is a time of faster technological change than anything ever seen before in human history. And with that technological change has come incredible changes in the way we live our lives.
And while schools are historically slow to change, we are now seeing rapid changes in the way schools operate. More students are taking courses online. Teachers are bringing new technologies into the classroom every day. And the digitization of student performance has led to a new focus on analysis of data in a way that has never been seen before.
And while we should be sure to evolve our schools and work to incorporate new ideas into our schools, we should also remember that very smart people were teaching before us. And in our haste to rush to the new – the shiny – we must not forget the lessons we have learned in the past.
To that end, we must be scholars of our own profession. We must work to understand the reasons that schools have become the institutions they are, and we must understand how innovation has — and has not — happened before. When we do this, we will be more equipped to innovate and evolve.
What we cannot do is just blindly follow whatever trend is hot this week, changing when the trend fades and leaving schools always playing catch up with a set of core values to serve as anchors.
The best ideas we can create are when we take the best ideas of the past and marry them to the world we live in today. We can create something new, grounded in the best of what we have been, but with an eye toward what our kids need to become today. To that end, when we look to innovate, we must ask ourselves “What’s good?” more than we ask ourselves “What’s new?” New fades. Good endures. That is a goal worth chasing.
Looking at what’s good helps us to avoid the mistakes that happened in the past. The technology that we use today is a tool to enhance teacher and student creativity and to share new knowledge. Thinking about the good will help teachers and students to determine what’s best for the future of society. The best learning environment occurs when teachers and students contribute to the learning process and the “good” is revealed.
My mom, a veteran teacher of 30+ years, advised me that education trends operate like a pendulum. Philosophies behind the trends go back and forth and back and forth.
Perhaps that is different with the newer technologies. Then again, maybe not. The one thing that is always true: Continually ask yourself “Why am I doing what I am doing?” 🙂
What’s good is even better than ‘What’s best’ in that best normally relate to something free of context.
I agree that we live in amazing times. As a business education instructor, it is sometimes hard to keep up with the newest and lastest technology because of time constraints. Still, I realize that it is important that I engage my learners in activities that will keep them actively engaged while mastering the objectives being taught. It is truly amazing how I am a member of Generation Y and had all of the luxuries that technology had to offer; and yet, my instructors taught me the value of “good instruction” and “great teachers”. As I enter my classroom everyday, I strive to incorporate some creative ideas but enhance them with some of the latest technology innovations because students today are accustomed to multitasking, active invovlement, and getting immediate feedback. New or good? I just know that it is working.
It is interesting how everyone runs to the new “shiny” ideas when they arise. People, including myself, often think that if it is new it must also be the best and most effective thing to use. However, we can not forget as professionals that we must use research and data based practices, strategies, and technology regardless of when the idea was developed. I will admit, newer technology often wins in the 21st in most general situations. There are special situations where the newest popular technology is not the best thing. For example, I have a student with cerebral palsy with minimal muscle control and the district boasted that they would be providing an iPad as a communication device. The family and student are excited, but our district did not consider that data from the student may not show a need for that technology. In fact, it will be very difficult for the student to manipulate this device. I feel that this technology is not necessarily appropriate, but was the “go to” option because it was the most popular at the time.
As we look at what is new and what is good, we need to keep in mind two things. What is best for our students and all the technology we have at our finger tips today is only a tool in our teaching and should not drive our teaching. We can still use many of the effective teaching strategies we have been using for years while incorporating the new to make them more effective for the students we have today. For instance, I think of cooperative learning. A good cooperative learning lesson includes many 21st century skills along with the content we are trying to teach our students. While helping our students understand the content, we can also add new technology skills to enhance the lesson. As we are amazed by the new and shiny, we need to think about our students and how they can learn our content the best.
Whats good versus what’s new. We as educators should focus on what is best for our students,just because it is new doesn’t mean it is the best for our students. As we know with technology what is trendy for today will not meet our needs of tomorrow. So we should think of technology as resources for learning and teach life long learning strategies that can be used for a lifetime
What’s most important is that we are preparing our students with 21st century skills that they can use in the long term. If using current technology is an important factor in this equation, then it is critical that schools have the opportunity to use these tools in order to stay relevant. Teachers and administrators should, as always, base decisions on best research based practices and student need.