It is 2011 and we are already 10% through the 21st Century. Seems hard to believe we survived Y2K and now we have 2012 to be concerned about. 21st Century Learning is all the rage and it has student, parent, teacher, administrator, trustee, etc looking at it with different perspectives. On the surface it appears to revolve around the use of technology in the classroom and bringing the tools of today’s youth to the forefront of educational practice. It has been used by management to encourage to debate and movement toward a more tech-savvy group of educators. Government has used it as an election slogan to give the appearance of educational forethought and progressive thinking. Students and parents see it as ‘choice-education’ allowing for ‘custom’ curriculum to be delivered to each student at their own pace. Educators see it as a repackaging of ‘sound teaching practice.’ Student-centered learning and activities used to promote student-engagement. Regardless of how one perceives 21st Century Learning the fact that the youth of today are not the same as the youth of yesterday and won’t be the same as the youth of tomorrow remains.
How then do we, as educators, shape our practice to take into account the changing cliental in our classrooms? Do we have a right to resist and say, ‘if it isn’t broken….’ What responsibility do we have to progress and adapt to a changing landscape where information can be found on Google faster than it can in a textbook. Where information is so plentiful the very nature of assignments, projects, homework has changed forever. It is important to understand that as professionals we are expected to grow and hone our practice. Doctors are not excused for not taking advantage for recent advances in medicine or lawyers using recent precedent in their cases… why then do we as educators resist the need for change?
The simple reason is education is so specific and personal to each teacher and learner that there is no one size fits all. What works for one student may not work for another so to say that teaching must change to cope with today’s student is the same as saying every patient with a fever is diagnosed with the same condition and prescribed the same medicine. 21st Century learning is just that… learning in the 21st Century and last I checked we were 10% through.