David Warlick: A crisis is a terrible thing to waste

Kids already have access to information, and they don't want to give up that access or the many ways in which they get it just because they walked into a classroom.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
Is education in "a silent crisis," as one researcher claims? If so, edtech blogger and consultant David Warlick says, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

Speaking at Oakland (Mich.) Schools' PowerUp! technology conference, Warlick urged educators to enter the 21st century and stop following the 19th-century model of rows of desks, a single blackboard and identical materials, the Oakland Press reports.

...Today's technology-savvy students want to access information themselves, manipulate it in ways that are meaningful to their own experiences and share the results with other students engaged in the same process, Warlick said. He said even in classrooms where students can access technology, instruction methods rarely resonate with the kind of learning kids are doing on their own via the Internet and other forms of technology.

"Let's face it, they're not human," Warlick said tongue-in-cheek. "They are a species that can reach through walls. They have tentacles that go outside the rooms they're in and spread out all over the world. When they walk into our classrooms, we chop those tentacles off and they don't like it."

The problem with traditional education, in other words, is that it prepares kids to go to work. But the world kids are entering demands entrepreneurship, originality and paradigm-busting.

Warlick suggested that in such a rapidly changing, global marketplace, today's students will not likely have the career security that the world's last superpower provided their parents and grandparents. As such, students will have to create their own opportunities.

Warlick encouraged educators to look for new ways to empower students as researchers, creators and presenters. He asked audience members to imagine what a "clickable teacher" or a "clickable classroom" would look like to a student.

But providing access to technology isn't the endgame. Kids want free access to information, not necessarily access to technology, Warlick said. The fact is that information doesn't get updated annually by the Board of Education, but minute by minute in realtime, online.

"I believe we will have achieved education reform when no teacher believes he or she can teach the same thing in the same way from one year to the next," Warlick said.
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