In 1905 a young engineer named Henry Ford invented a strange looking box with four wheels known as the Quadricycle. This creative engineer was able to accomplish this feet of industry using the skills he obtained while learning in the city of Detroit as an apprentice machinist. Even then the skills he obtained and mastered were based on the knowledge, technology, and equipment of the time. Without his knowledge of the present he was unable to invent the future.
While histories lessons are invaluable, current technology, skills, and concepts are a necessity for today’s engineers and inventers. Are educators are much like engineers? They are given materials and asked to create an object or device that works, and performs better than older models. Teachers are given students with a variety of skills, needs, and wants and are asked to create a learner that can accomplish more than last years model. Sounds pretty much the same to me.
I am frightfully discovering that many of our educators beginning their careers in classrooms are lacking the inventive spirit and 21st century skills that improve education and reaches the present day child. We continue to use old practices on “new” kids and our teachers continue to get more frustrated when they don’t work or their students are not engaged. Today’s learner continues to be less engaged in traditional teaching. I believe not because they have a bad attitude but because they learn in a culture that speaks a new language and uses new skills. The system of instruction we have today is grounded in tradition and convenience. Worksheets haven’t changed. We’ve just discovered ways to make cleaner and faster copies.
Teachers are not necessarily to blame. They have a workday and calendar that does not provide for systemic building wide training of these skills. Instead we train one or two people by sending them away while the rest never have the ability to obtain that talent due to inadequate planning and collaboration. The future of education doesn’t lie in the results of a standardized test but in the inventive spirit of creative teachers, administrators, and school staffs around the world. Beginning in college future educators must be given the opportunity to invent new ways to teach and learn. They must learn the skills and makeup of the 21st century child and obtain the tools to inspire them. School districts must give their teachers the time necessary to relearn what type of child they are teaching and be given the freedom to meet their needs through new ways of learning while holding onto the caring student teacher relationship that makes kids want to come.
Our nations schools are filled with teachers that have a deep passion for learning and a caring heart for children. They also have a mounting frustration with trying to engage kids that have no interest in school. Just like the technology and skills that have changed throughout the history of the automotive industry, the needs, skills, and learning styles of our students has changed. From the age of birth our students are immersed in a digital world with digital equipment. We cannot continue down the path of expecting them to adjust to what works for tradition. Every day we sell our product of knowledge and skills. The question is not if they need what we are selling but whether they are willing to buy our Quadricycle.
The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.