“What are they teaching kids these days?” It’s a question that perennially pops-up among parents. From “new math” to iPads in the classroom, school curricula are ever changing. But, the more things change the more they stay the same. The goal at the forefront of education is still to equip students with the skills to solve the problems they will face as working adults. One of the newest approaches to problem solving integrates social and emotional learning with basic science and social studies. A process called Design Thinking is taking hold with educators across the country.
Limiting screen time probably ranks near the top of most “Dreaded Parental Duties” lists. Finding the right balance between “I just need a few minutes of peace” and the endless playback loop of Netflix is never easy. In my house, our rule is no screens after school, since the Bubble Guppies join us for breakfast on many mornings. To tell the truth, I thought I was doing pretty well in the screen-limitation-parenting department, until the afternoon that my three year old tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mommy, leave the phone down. Play with me.” Clearly, limiting my son’s screen time wasn’t enough. I also needed to check my own digital devices at the door. It was a hard thing to hear.
We’ve all heard the joke of the crotchety grandfather opining on his childhood: “When I was your age, I had to walk ten miles to school through the snow - and it was uphill both ways!” While the humor lies in the obvious exaggeration, this tongue-in-cheek statement also suggests its inverse: Our children generally ride to school in a climate-controlled vehicle with the windows rolled up. Indeed, much of their lives are lived indoors, or in a sanitized version of the outdoors, free of perils and bugs and other discomforts (as much as we adults can help it).
Close your eyes with me for a moment and think back to your elementary school days. Feel the bubbling excitement that welled up as you arrived at school, brown paper lunch sack in hand, school bus idling in the parking lot. Today, you are leaving your pencils in your desk. It’s field trip day.
Proudly sporting their “I am a digital citizen” stickers, Shorecrest students gathered during this Digital Citizenship week to share ways to protect themselves and demonstrate Shorecrest values online. Daily, we send our students into the virtual world to conduct research, collaborate with peers across oceans, and take action to improve their communities. Students reinforce their math skills using engaging math games online. They build online Portfolios to demonstrate their learning. They create movies, websites, and other virtual products to share their knowledge. They challenge teachers to constantly evolve their practice to reflect the changing world.
In short, technology is transformative.