Education Opinion

It’s a Great Time to Be Young (and Old)!

By Marc Prensky — September 01, 2014 3 min read
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To my readers:

Welcome, on this Labor Day 2014 (in the U.S.) to my new blog for Education Week! I look forward to sharing my ideas with you on a regular and frequent basis—and I hope you’ll write back often.

The title of this blog is “Provocative Ed-Tech Thinking,” and I want to make one thing very clear: Although I do want to provoke and stimulate your thinking, I never write anything just to provoke. Everything I write, I truly believe.

My ideas, though, often run contrary to the status quo, and to what others are doing, and so they do tend to provoke strong reactions, and, hopefully new thinking. It is from such a caldron that the best new directions emerge.

Although my opinions are strong, I am always open to hearing other, well-articulated points of view, and to debating the complex issues that go both with ed-tech and with education in general. My great hope is that this “blog” will become a “dia-blog"—i.e. a conversation between us—in which you will have your thinking stimulated by my ideas, you will push back and stimulate me as well, and through which we will all move forward together to new understanding in the difficult and complex world that is education and ed-tech.

Let me also offer a welcome to all my esteemed colleagues—other bloggers, consultants authors, and others—who are working hard to help change education for the better. (You know who you, and they, are.) I hope you will chime in as well. We won’t always agree, but healthy dialog is something we need more of to create the education we need in these rapidly moving and experimental times.

My goal is to post three times a week: (1) a visionary, future-oriented post, (2) a highly practical post, and (3) reactions to whatever thoughtful feedback and comments you send, along with a re-visit to an old piece/topic that I have written or written about.

I’m looking forward to this. I think it will be fun.


Post 0001: It’s Great Time to be Young (and Old)

The very first message I want to deliver is an optimistic one to educators, parents, and especially to our students: If you are a person living in these times, who is very—or even remotely—interested in creating new things, going new places and improving the world, this is probably the best time in the history of humans to be alive.

We hear a lot about the problems of the world, of education, and of our youth—and they are real. But let’s look at the bigger picture: For most of history, most of the people in the world were farmers. In the last millennium, we became builders, and created the world of today. Now, in this new millennium, we can all become explorers—something once reserved for the very few. In this new era humans will explore the brain, the universe, and the new virtual worlds we are in the process of creating. Already, everyone who is connected to the Web can participate in this, through sites like Livewire, Fold-it, and Galaxy Zoo—and this is only the beginning. Our human brains are becoming vastly extended by our new technologies, which are quickly become available to more and more of the world’s people. Within our lifetimes—and certainly our children’s—the entire world will be connected to all our information and to each other.

As educators, our real job is to help our kids take advantage of these opportunities, so that they can become the best third millennium humans they can possibly be. No matter what we are asked to do day-to-day—and no matter what we feel we must do—we must always bear this in mind.

Education used to be about teaching kids about the past because their future would be very much like it. Now it won’t. Our kids’ future will be quite different, and we are just learning to prepare for it. We must not only teach differently, but teach a much wider variety of skills. Not just Effective Thinking, but also Effective Action, Effective Relationships and Effective Accomplishment. Education is now a worldwide experiment to figure out how to do things appropriately—and better—in, and for, our new context.

Some of this is already happening, both within schools, and especially outside of school, where kids are doing amazing things. I maintain that we grossly underestimate what our kids are capable of doing and accomplishing in our times, with the tools now available to them.

So I urge you to look at our kids—and education—in this optimistic sense, and not to get mired down in education’s day-to-day problems and past. Today’s kids are fledglings on the ledge of a new, and towering future and our job is help them leave the aerie in a way that allows them to soar. The most important thing any teacher can say to any kid in our new context is “Surprise me!”

Your comments are welcome.

Marc Prensky

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.