Digital Leading and Learning

My Learning Manifesto and Emerging Issues

I. Ask yourself what you are truly passionate about

My philosophy of education encompasses many different aspects of teaching and learning. One of my favorite quotes is, “One who teaches must never cease to learn.” If asked to state my philosophy of education into one terse statement, this quote would be it. I believe that in teaching, there are two sets of people that never stop learning; the teacher and the student both have an endless supply of knowledge at their disposal. It is important for the teacher to remember that just because he or she is the expert of the information in the classroom, there is still always plenty of room to learn. Learning from a student, I believe, is one of the most valuable kinds of learning in existence.

I think my most valuable lesson that I have learned is that while teaching, I am not just teaching English. I am teaching English to ‘Bobby’, ‘Kaitlin’, ‘Alexa’ etc. It is important to remember that you cannot just teach content. You must teach many different aspects of learning styles, individual techniques, etc. ‘Bobby’ will read Shakespeare differently than ‘Kaitlin’, and so forth. Teaching to individuals rather than an entire class will improve engagement, achievement, and success.

While a teacher must know that one does not ever stop learning, it is also important for the teacher to believe in teaching as an art. One must take everything that he or she has learned, and mold that into the physical art of teaching it. Teaching is not just taking information and telling it to a classroom full of students; it is taking information, knowledge, life lessons, and overarching ideas, and applying it so that students can begin to ask their own questions about the material presented. In order for this act of the students to happen, the teacher must tell, show, do, and apply. The classroom must be a physical environment that encompasses many different kinds of learning, as well as a place where the individual learner has a fair chance.

My philosophy, I believe, is what constructivist pedagogy is truly all about. John Abbott, in “Building knowledge: constructivism in learning” states that constructivism means that students “never learn anything from scratch” (2008). Constructivism is when one takes all of the experience and background knowledge to process new information. What I find most important about Abbott’s explanation is that in constructivism, one can never “see anything objectively (2008) which makes me think about the idea of testing that is upon us ALL THE TIME in our public school system. SATs, Keystone Exams, PSSAs, they all do the same thing; they ask all of our students to see the same exact material in the same exact way. This leads to my largest problem of all time: if I believe in constructivism, and want to truly incorporate this philosophy into my teaching, what in the world do I do about all these tests? These tests that now have my annual rating attached to them. I have a dream of one day, for an entire year, closing my classroom door, practicing the art of teaching how I think it is meant to be practiced, and just wait and see what the test scores all say. My hypothesis is that they will be higher than ever.

II.  Identify what you think are emerging issues related to digital learning and leading at the state, regional, national, and/or global contexts.

While digital learning has many positive outcomes and by products, it has many negative aspects as well. I think that each issue is present at the entire state, regional, national, and global context—they are all really one in the same. Think about what digital learning is; it is connectivity. If it is an issue at the global level, it is automatically an issue on a smaller scare, and vice versa. For example: in each school district, digital learning (online classes, digital connectivity within traditional classes, etc.) has become somewhat of a norm for many middle and upper class districts. However, that is not the case with inner city and rural school districts, districts with less money and fewer resources. It also poses an issue inside the well-to-do classroom, as there are students in each district, no matter how well-off it is, who do not have the same connectivity as everyone. Now compare this issue with the state, regional, and global level: there are some states, some regions, and some countries that have an unequal distribution of connectivity.

The reason I use the term connectivity instead of “Internet” is actually because of the manifesto I read by Seth Godin, entitled, “Stop Stealing Dreams.” He explains that we are actually beyond the Internet revolution and into the “connection revolution” (Godin, pg.36, 2012). He explains that the idea of the connection revolution is to
“amplify[y] [it] to become the dominant force in our economy” (Godin, pg.36, 2012). Many people are realizing, however, that we don’t really know how to use digital learning or this amazing connectivity to amplify our lives an economy. A contributor, Tom Vander Ark, for an online education journal, Getting Smart outlines some of these fears; he explains that teachers are concerned about how technology doesn’t really enhance learning much of the time; we are using the same teaching techniques but with new technology (2012). My example here is the idea of a multiple choice, objective quiz. If we give one online using Quizlet, is it really any different or better than giving it on paper? No, but because it’s digital, teachers think they are all the rage. Another issue is what I questioned earlier; how can we really move forward into the digital learning age full force if we are still required to take crazy standardized tests? (Ark, 2012).

III.  What is right/wrong with education and what should the world do to enhance/fix it?

This question is a lofty one to answer. Education is such a major aspect of our society, there are a million things right with it AND a million things wrong with it. What’s right/wrong with our government? With our law enforcement system? With our food regulations? These are things that make up our entire society, and we will never be able to perfect any of them, or even come close. I believe that for the most part, we all have a very similar idea about education’s purpose: we are educating people so they can better contribute to our society when finished with the education system. What’s wrong with it, however, is that we do not agree HOW to educate all of our members of society in order to actually make them better contributors. We have not updated the education system fast enough to keep up with our updated (and constantly updating) society. However, I ask, is that even possible? Seth Godin explains, “if school’s function is to create the workers we need to fuel our economy, we need to change school, because the workers we need have changed as well” (Godin, pg.17, 2012). Yet how do we do that? “Change school” is such a lofty goal; school is a major empire with so many working parts. When I really sit down and reflect on this issue, I think I have at least one major part of the puzzle. In order to “change school” and to update our educational system to match our growing and changing society, we need to cultivate better teachers. How do we do that? By incentivizing teachers who really want to be there to do a good job: pay them more, stress them less, and allow them to do what they are trained to do: teach! Stop forcing teachers to provide information… in this digital learning age, we don’t need teachers to stand in front of a room to provide factual information- that is what Google is for. Instead, allow teachers to do the job we all wish to do: facilitate discussion, exploration, critical thinking, problem solving, and molding our young people into the people we want to see in society. Then, I think, our test scores will improve (and maybe won’t matter so much anyway) and we can really then embrace the idea of digital learning and leading.

References

Abbott, J. (2008, January 31). Building knowledge: Constructivism in learning [Video

file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F00R3pOXzuk

Ark, T. V. (2012, February 11). 10 Benefits & 10 Concerns About the Shift to
Digital Learning. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from Getting Smart website:
http://gettingsmart.com/2012/02/
10-benefits-10-concerns-about-the-shift-to-digital-learning/

Godin, S. (2012). Stop stealing dreams [PDF]. Retrieved February 6, 2016, from
http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/stopstealingdreamsscreen.pdf

 

 

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