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Teach for Tomorrow, not for Today!

….and no more teaching as we did yesterday. The subjects that we teach in k12 schools today almost mirror the subjects and content that was taught ‘in the beginning’. What has certainly changed in public education is not only the populations served, but also changes in the world in which we live have brought demands for competencies in areas never foreseen. 21st Century education, envisioned as an equalizer as was 19th and 20th Century learning frameworks, needs to arm children with academic skills which create a pathway forward. Teaching young learners the knowledge necessary to compete in the world of work is the objective. In order to meet that objective. we need to reflect on what they need today, viewed as perpetual skills, and supplement that with perpetual life[socio-emotional] skills simultaneously and comprehensively.

Today, as our capacity to understand the brain and what being ‘human’ means, although we invoke selective amnesia and selective inattention regarding some groups, we are better able to design instruction and develop curricula. We are able to develop and implement learning goals which are responsive to a comprehensively whole child approach to instructional delivery to facilitate academic achievement. Methodology is evidence-based, culturally responsive, age /developmentally-appropriate, differentiated and content-specific. We understand that there are multiple intelligences, and we also acknowledge evidence of multiple learning styles. This helps pedagogues to design lessons and effectively engage students in the classroom. We infuse technology into classroom learning, and we even use smart boards to illustrate concepts and ideas.

Unfortunately, we do not develop curricula which is built upon a foundational set of skills, becoming more complex as learners progress in concert with visionary strategies, concepts and ideas. To encourage higher numbers of future Einstein, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, we must encourage creativity. We must embrace creative ideas as we acknowledge the potential within all students to think and become visionaries and future solution focused culture creators. Future Richard Bransons and Michael Jordans of the world are not and should not be perceived as accidental agents of change. Conversely, we must envision great things, great potential and future success for every student. We support this vision with offering encouragement, challenges, and believing in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. With sufficient support, they will believe in their individual strengths.

Teaching for tomorrow requires a complete framework design overhaul. If we are planning for future success, there should be a space for every student reserved for future and present success. Put to rest all ‘immaculate perceptions’, that is, biases, -isms, stereotypes. They demonstrate how well or poorly cloaked we are in empathy, compassion and cultural proficiency. Additionally, they keep American education and American students far behind students in other countries[and we are a competitive nation]. We proclaim a dedication of policy which seeks to ensure that ‘every student succeeds’. The -isms, implicit and explicit biases, disparities and cultural insensitivity are factors in the system’s mindset, framework and curriculum continue to render that dream deferred.

We wish to deliver quality learning experiences for students, and so we have sought to standardize learning and all with which it encompasses. Unfortunately, the results of standardization-the outcomes- have become variable. If we wish outcomes to become the constant, then the input must become variable. In other words, we can’t standardize what we deliver to people, human beings, because we are variable. Instead children are still being educated as though they were car parts coming through an assembly line.

Again, technology offers personalized learning experiences never before possible. What we must do with the way we teach should mimic providers such as HP or Dell. They don’t sell their computers off of an assembly line-all the same. They build computers that are precisely ordered and individualized by each consumer. This is the type of thinking that allows responsiveness and removes barriers which prevent all children to achieve.

Teachers must adopt an entirely new mindset, beginning with authentic belief that every child can achieve. It mean teachers must now ask not ‘what is wrong with the student?’ but ‘what must I do differently to ensure student success?’

 

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