This sign caught my eye this morning as I was visiting an Oklahoma university:
I am not posting this photo and commenting on it to put down or slight this university or department in any way. What I am writing here is not directly critical of them, their faculty or their learning environment. My reflections focus on the words found at the bottom of this sign, which I suspect is the defacto slogan of many other learning environments across our nation at the present time:
Emphasizing the 3 R’s since 1890.
I think this slogan probably resonates with a lot of older adults, because a “focus on the basics” message for education makes sense and sounds appealing to many. Certainly the ability to read, write, and perform basic arithmetic are foundational skills all learners need.
Today, however, I think our educational need is more pressing than ever to GO BEYOND “the basics.” Focusing on “the 3 R’s” was laudable in the 19th century when access to information was sharply limited and being “literate” in some contexts meant being able to just write your name. Today in the knowledge landscape of the 21st century, however, an exclusive emphasis on the 3 R’s is like an advertisement for irrelevance.
Non-digital, 19th century learning environments PREDOMINATE in most of our schools– at least where I live and work most of the time in Oklahoma. I had a conversation with a preservice teacher today who recently had some “field experiences” with a high school government and history teacher. I asked him what types of technology applications the teacher was using with students, and his answer was: An overhead projector.
We’re living in a remarkably dynamic time for learning and living, and it shouldn’t surprise us that so many people (and institutions) are slow to change. Like John Miller shared last week, when we seek to change perceptions and paradigms of thinking it is best NOT to ask people, “Do you want to change your culture?” The answer to that question will almost always be “No!” Instead, I agree that we should focus on goals and shared learning objectives.
A friend talked to me about this yesterday in the context of the book “Parenting With Love And Logic.” When asked about their parenting goals, some parents will respond “to have healthy and happy children.” Yet our goal as parents shouldn’t just focus on where our children are TODAY, but also on where we want them to be (developmentally and cognatively) in the future. A better parenting goal, with a vision for the future as well as the present, might be “To raise children that will grow up to be capable, responsible, and ethical adults.”
Similarly in education, I think we need to evaluate the stated GOALS we are striving to achieve, and recognize our children need and deserve far more than preparatory experiences focused on “The 3 R’s.”
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On this day..
- Learning in Dodge City About Digital Literacy & iPads in the Classroom - 2014
- Twitter Archived Learning from EdCampOKC 2014 - 2014
- Empowering Digital Witnesses to Preserve and Share Family Stories - 2013
- Turn Off AudioBoo Comments - 2012
- iOS Apps by Genre and Every Day Apps #edapp - 2011
- Register for #iste11 BYOL: Simple Ideas for Powerful Sharing - 2011
- WordPress OKC Feb 2010 User’s Group Notes - 2010
- K12Online Conference Echo Webcasts - 2010
- A superintendent for whom I'd like to work - 2008
- Google Notebook article - 2007