21st Century Learners–This isn’t Leave it to Beaver–Out with the old, in with the new

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RSAnimate:  Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Daniel Pink says the way to get people motivated to perform is to give them autonomy,
mastery and purpose.  If I can create and own my work, identify with it, control it and then share it with others, I will spend hours of my OWN time creating AND ENJOY doing it.  This applies to the workplace, the classroom, and pretty much any aspect of life.  When
people are motivated and feel they are making a contribution and creating something of meaning, they will invest, whole-heartedly in that venture.  As, my previous blog discussed, my desirefits right along side Pink’s ideas, to flip the classroom and bring the exploration and critical thinking inside my classroom doors, giving the students the ownership and empowerment in their own learning.

Okay, I have the motivation to perform.  For example, I just spent four hours surfing through videos on 21st century learning and pedagogy.  I loved it and enjoyed it.  But there was one issue: Ihad to wait until I was home sick from work in order to DO IT!  Why?  Because as I mentioned before, in my everyday planning schedule, finding the time to make this new innovative style of learning fit within the constraints of the common assessments and standardized tests, is very difficult.  Because at the end of the
day, I have to meet the demands of prepping students for semester exams and external assessments.  In the end, my students are going to have to sit for exams and I have to provide quantitative results as to where my students measure up.  That traditional institutionalized mentality still creeps in and I have to contribute a number to their GPA.

Some schools have ventured out and made the full shift, but so many are still holding on to bits and pieces of old ways.  I am all about holding onto old traditions that are meaningful and continue to enrich my students experiences.  There is something to be said about why those methods have been around for so long.  But, maybe it is time to realize the goals are the same, but the methods and philosophies we use to get there are different.  For example, let’s think about our parents’ educational journey.  How much of their current knowledge really can be traced back to those days they sat in the classroom, plugging and chugging numbers by hand?  PROBABLY NONE!!  The truth of the matter is is that our parents are where they are in their professional lives because they had to adapt to an ever changing word, to teach themselves the new technologies as they came along, to learn how to synthesize, to problem solve, to think critically.  I can venture to say that nine times out of ten, their “teachers” didn’t teach them that, they had to go figure it out by themselves.
Well good for them.  And of course it was all for the purpose of providing their children with a better environment, a more innovative and knowledgeable world than they had, right?  So, if this is the case and adults inside and outside of education have seen the value in adapting to their surroundings, then why are so many still resisting helping their children adapt now, instead of later, so they don’t have to trudge through the same trenches and hardships as they did?

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 I teach, therefore you learn…or do you?

Actually, with or without us, the kids ARE adapting.  For this Digital Native generation, from the moment they came into the  world, have experienced technological change like never seen before and all along they are digitally adapting with the times.  And, like our parents, most of them are doing it ALL BY THEMSELVES.  But, they aren’t adults, with a long line of life experiences and a foundational education.  They are children surfing around in a vast digital world and trying to teach themselves.  And they are having to do it all alone (or with the help of their friends) because the adults in their lives–their parents, their school administration, and most of their teachers, are scared.  Scared to take that leap of faith and jump into the next era of learning.

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Learning to Change, Changing to learn

Like was said, there are a new 21st century set of Literacies:  Find, Validate,
Synthesize, leverage, Communicate, Collaborate and Problem Solve.  Why not trust that the classroom can become this place, where today’s students are helping create their own education, becoming active participants in it, instead of passive sponges, absorbing meaningless information, just for the sake of  passing a test?  Why not trust us 21st century educators and let us bring the global community that today’s student lives in 24/7 INTO the classroom and turn it into a place that is artistic, that involves synthesis and understanding of context, where they can work in teams to collaborate and communicate and problem solve together?  Where the social networks and peer online communities that distract them from the homework will NOW become a part of their classwork, AND they are so excited about what they are creating and learning that they can’t and don’t want to stop when they get home!  And all of those tehnological realms that they were traversing alone, without adult supervision and guidance, are now related to and integrated into their education.

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*21st Century learners

This is the type of world we are supposed to prepare our students for, one that involves the ability to create, to synthesize, to problem solve, to think critically.  We need to stop spoon-feeding our students and start empowering them to be self-directed and help them manage their own learning.  Like Daniel Pink demonstrates, this is what motivates people.   I am ready to do it, I just have to find a way to correlate it back to those darn quantitative measures.

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How will you teach me in the 21st Century?

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