If education, as I suggested in my previous post, were to be about “becoming,” rather than “learning,” we would see the following beneficial results:
Our kids would be asking themselves all through school: Who am I becoming? Have I become a better thinker? If so, in what ways? Am I able to do things I couldn’t before? What is important to me and why? Can I relate comfortably to individuals, in teams and in virtual communities? Have I accomplished bigger, more sophisticated projects to add to my portfolio? What kind of person have I had to become to achieve these accomplishments? Am I doing the most good and the least harm? Can I make the world a better place?
Do these sound like good questions for our kids to be asking?
In a time obsessed by quantitative measurement of “learning,” becoming may seem harder to quantify than some of the things we measure today. But we do not have a hard time recognizing it. Suppose teachers had to sit down a few times a year and write about what they think each of their students is becoming?
It would be far more interesting — and useful — to a parent or potential employer to know how good a student has become at thinking, doing, relating, and accomplishing in their own areas of passion, than it is to know what that student’s grades are in math, language arts, social studies, and science.
Today, we spend so much time and effort looking at test scores, averages, and other petty measurements of math, language, science and social studies “learning” that we have little time or energy left to focus on who our students are becoming (or are not becoming) as individuals, what each of them loves or hates, and what driveseach of them individually. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, if they sometimes become people we do not like or respect, or if we have concerns about their potential contributions to society.
Today’s education and schools are almost totally focused on “learning.” But despite centuries of academic tradition, that is the wrong aspiration for today’s and tomorrow’s students and teachers.
Were we to focus instead on helping all students be the very best and most capable people they can be (which is what some our most innovative schools are now doing) our kids’ education and our society would be light-years ahead of where they are now.
If we had higher expectations for our kids, who knows what they might become?
Your comments are always welcome.
The opinions expressed in Prensky’s Provocative Ed-Tech Thinking 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.