As we make the move to being a 1:1 school next year at Burlington High School, there is definitely anxiety among many staff members (including me). I take the unrest as a necessary step in this and any major initiative. We all know how hard change is, especially in the world of education. But when we look closely at the mission statements we have in each of our schools the question of going 1:1 changes from how? to how soon?
Take the Burlington High School Mission Statement for example which states:
Burlington High School prepares students for lifelong learning and responsible citizenship by offering a challenging, relevant curriculum and varied activities in a safe environment.
We would have to drastically modify our mission if we were not taking a route towards a 1:1 environment. We really cannot be a place that thoroughly prepares students for lifelong learning and responsible citizenship if we are not utilizing some of the same digital tools students will have access in their post high school pursuits. We certainly can’t say we are teaching responsible citizenship if we are not focusing on digital citizenship.
In his book Education Nation, Milton Chen calls 1:1 access “the digital civil right of every student to participate in his or her own education.” I could not agree more and if we truly care about our students, then we will toss aside our anxiety and remember our primary role as educators to prepare our students for what they will face when they leave our schools. Since the world outside our doors is changing at a faster rate than any time in history, we should be seeing some shifts within our walls as well.
We have all heard about the fact that we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet. Following this line of thinking, can we really do this if we are not modifying our own current job descriptions? We are our own biggest obstacles in moving forward. As Chen points out, the state of Maine successfully implemented 1:1 programs over a decade ago. Gary Stager has also been talking about the benefits of 1:1 for years.
The path has been successfully set in front of us and we need to start making some movement on it. George Couros summed up the needed mindset well when discussing some changes happening at his school – “I don’t care how far along you are on the path. I just want you on the path.”
I hope you will join us!