Saturday, October 19, 2013

#WWDD What Would Dewey Do?

Earlier this morning, as I scrolled through my Twitter feed, I noticed the following tweet from Steven Anderson (@web20classroom). "Are we teaching for yesterday or tomorrow? #edscape" Apparently, he was listening to a talk from George Couros (@gcouros), which I'm hoping was archived somewhere. At any rate this got me thinking even more about the leaders in child development and education that laid the foundation we rely on today. Individuals like John Dewey who said "If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." A timeless and poignant quote that may be even more meaningful in today's technology driven world. But I had to stop and think: What Would Dewey Do?, if he had been an educator today? Or Piaget, Bloom or Erikson for that matter. Suddenly an educators version of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is swirling in my brain. If we could somehow transport yesterday's thought leaders into modern times and sit them down with Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Marc Prensky and the like, what would that conversation look like?
Today's students are learning at an accelerated pace that is well beyond exponential growth. They are saturated with information and require guidance and facilitation more than ever to weed through all of it. Status Quo is simply not acceptable in our rapid fire ever changing 21st century reality. Would the greatest mind's from days gone by embrace our methods of assessment and use of technology or would they chastise us for not allowing their theories to stand without adaptation. I think you know the answer.
How many of us heard growing up that television was going to rot our brains? Expanding on that thought, what could the Internet be doing to our DNA? OK, that's a bit of a stretch. But, this type of thinking is based on fear of the unknown and caution can create apathy and atrophy. Are we pushing the boundaries or merely keeping our heads above water? Believe it or not, I think we are on the side of breaking through barriers. The educational system is slowly evolving thanks today's educational leaders. And I'm not talking about the leaders in government and special interest groups. I'm talking about those who push you to think, evaluate and assess what you are trying to achieve.
I had the pleasure of recently attending a gathering which included a talk from David Jakes (@DJakes) who asked if it was a good idea to slap Web 2.0 tools onto Bloom's taxonomy. My immediate and surprisingly vocal response was yes. And here's why...By putting the use of today's tools into a framework today's teachers easily relate to, there is a hope that technology will be infused into more lessons. This however, is not enough! We also need to start educating teachers on new theories that help us assess and evaluate our use of instructional technology. Ideas like the SAMR model and the Technology Integration Matrix. We do not need to raze the old foundation. Our classic theories still hold weight. But we are doing ourselves and our students a great disservice if we do not continue to establish new ideals which could not have even been conceivable a century ago.
So next time you find yourself with a new educational opportunity or teachable moment. I hope you ask yourself "What Would Dewey Do"!
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