Be What We Expect Our Students To Become

cc licensed flickr photo by woodleywonderworks:

Recently I read a great blog post from Doug Johnson. He writes in response to a post from Scott McLeod on his Dangerously Irrelevant Blog below:

As much fun as speculating what education might or ought to look like in 2050 (I’ll only be 98 years old, after all), I’d suggest energies are better spent in realizing the potential of the technologies and opportunities we have available to us – TODAY. These would be my questions for Will …

  • Why don’t we now have an IEP for every child (and every teacher), with tech facilitating this today?
  • Why doesn’t every child have a laptop or netbook with 24/7 access to tutorials, information, and productivity tools for all learners with genuinely differentiated approaches and resource for each student TODAY?
  • Why is not every teacher taking advantage of challenging/engaging game environments and MUVEs TODAY?
  • Why is every teacher not taking advantage of a nearly unlimited number of resources to allow the creation of relevant assignments based on personal interests for every child TODAY?
  • Why do teachers and students not have 24/7 access to information professionals (librarians) TODAY?
  • Why do there only seem to be a few teachers in every school that make creativity, problem-solving and global interactions a priority TODAY?

Why are these things not the norm, but the exception TODAY? It would take no extra funds, no revolution, no scientific breakthroughs, no visioning. Just work.(And I’ll bet these things are not universal even in the districts of the administrative geniuses Scott describes.)

Doug talks about changes that need to happen in education TODAY. I couldn’t agree more with the questions Doug is asking.

  • With the resources that we have available today through technology, all students and teachers could and should have a plan based on their needs that will help them improve and learn at the highest level.
  • Laptops for every student, in every school would truly empower students to learn 24/7 about their PASSIONS in a way that will allow them to THINK, LEAD & SERVE in this global, digital community we all live in.
  • Kids have grown up on video games and love to dream and live in this virtual world, and yet most teachers have no idea the amount of learning that could take place in their classes if they harnessed the power of gaming in their classrooms.
  • Kids have access to so many tools that would allow them to create and develop products to demonstrate their learning on a level, no textbook, notepad and pencil could ever do.
  • Students should not only have access to their school librarians, but to all of their teachers 24/7 so they can learn when and how they learn.

We need students that can create, students that are globally connected, and students that are problem-solvers because they will be the leaders of our world in the not to distant future. All students should have opportunities to develop these skills on a daily


As Doug described in his post. All of the questions he asked about schools today could happen easily for free, but he forgot one important question. Why do we expect every kid to adjust to the system instead of the system adjusting to the kid?

We live in such a diverse, connected world, begging for people that are:

  • Adaptable
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Risk Takers
  • Collaborative
  • Problem-Solvers

But our current educational system wants all students to develop the same skills, at the same rate, taught in the same manner, to each individual. ALL educators know that this system is not conducive to true learning. We know all people are different. We know all kids develop differently. We know every student has different strengths & different weaknesses and different likes & different dislikes. We know

that all students learn differently. We know that for a student to be passionate about learning and to become a life-long learner, we have to help students find what works best for them, which may or may not be what works best for everyone else, especially the adults.

The current educational system needs to change. We have known it for years because so many efforts to reform education have been attempted. The problem with reforming the model we currently have is it somehow morphs back into what it always was. The system will always become what it always was because the focus has always been on what is best for the adults, and not on what is best for the students.

For the system to change in a way in which meaningful learning is the norm instead of the exception, we will need an entirely NEW system. The factory model needs to be replaced with an educational system that is more similar to the world in which we live in. It needs to be:

  • Adaptable
  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Willing to take Risks
  • Collaborative
  • Full of Problem-Solvers

The system needs to be what we expect from the kids. We are trying to create this type of system at Van Meter. We are excited about the direction we are going, but we are only one small school in Iowa. For these needed changes to take place throughout the U.S, we are going to need educational leaders who are willing to BE what they expect our students to become.

One Comment

  1. Danyelle maddox said:

    The beauty (or ugliness…depending on what is posted) of the web is that we can see blogs years after they have been written. Interestingly, we have come no futher in technology access, in far too many school districts, than when you wrote this blog almost two years ago. I am not certain that funding is not an issue, especially given the fact that the ability to maintain technology for all must also be a priority as well. But I will say that where there is a will there is a way. The question is do we have the will?

    June 13, 2012

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