The sheer volume of information readily available at the click of a key is astounding and it is growing at an ever increasing rate!! But where will it lead? How much information do we really need and what will happen to our ability to discover ideas on our own? Will we lose the opportunity to experience the wonder of discovery? Whatever the answer to these questions is, one sure consequence is the role of schools has changed.
I have posted on similar topics before. As a teacher, I realise my role is to provide a framework within which students can learn and then develop the skills they require to successfully navigate their future. As an English teacher that means I need to offer my students the opportunity to acquire and expand their ability to read and write critically. In other words, to analyse, evaluate and offer reasoned opinions. The rewarding fact is these are skills and as such, are within reach of each student. Just as an athlete improves their prowess through practice and dedication, so can students extend their reading and writing skills through regular, purposeful reading and writing. Linking to and contributing to a blog such as this is one positive way to achieve this. Unfortunately, not all students are as motivated in this area as they are devoted to their sport and leisure activities. The challenge then for teachers (and schools) is to create environments where inspiration becomes the motivation.
Students today are digital natives who go to Google for answers and they expect to ‘know’ in an instant. The days of teachers being the ‘expert’ at the front of the classroom expounding knowledge, gleaned laboriously through endless hours hunched over books in dimly lit libraries are, if not already, soon to be a distant memory (perhaps to be watched in incredulous humour on YouTube). Teaches instead will become ‘coaches’ who model ‘how’ and then pose questions so students can ‘do’. Here it is worth noting the importance of questioning. It is in asking questions that we stimulate interest and inspire motivation.
Of course this means the classroom should be a place which is relevant, comfortable, safe and inventive. Students need to feel as though there is a purpose to what they are studying and that they are moving toward a specific (desired) destination.
Here I return to the recognition of the immense and exponentially growing information ‘web’. Just like a web, it threatens to ensnare the unwary. Therefore, it is vital that teachers and schools provide students with the opportunity and desire to hone their ability to read and write critically. As our students begin to appreciate the value of the question (more than the instantaneous answer) they are more likely to develop their own self awareness and motivation.