What should teachers be teaching?

Our class debate in EC&I 830 this week was centered around the question- Should teachers teach anything that can be Googled? After hearing both sides of the debate, reading through the recommended articles and watching the videos my thoughts are slowly formulating. Pavan Arora explains in his TED talk that 65% of our students will have jobs in the future that we have never heard of. Ackboff and Greenberg (2008) describe schools as places of incarceration and state that perhaps teachers are the ones learning and not the students. When these two modes of thought are put together we can see that schools are not doing their job. They are not empowering children to learn for themselves. Education has evolved a bit from the lecture style, teacher at the front form of teaching, however, we still need to do better! Can allowing students to goggle their learning really propel education into the future? Nicholas Carr asks the question Is Google Making us Stupid? in his article. He goes on to explain that he has noticed his reading and thinking skills have changed with the onset of online skimming. So on the one hand schools need to educate for the future and on the other hand what skills are we losing in the process and is that ok?

I am a low tech girl, I have only had an iPhone for about a year, I have just recently (like in the past month) started tweeting and blogging and I still can’t always figure out how to turn Netflix on (we have so many remotes!)

I tried to resist bringing more tech into my world because I see what it does to people, it seems to create disengagement in families and dissatisfaction with just being in the moment. I have just recently begun to see how tech can enhance learning and create new opportunities in early childhood settings.  Teachers have a responsibility to their students, to provide opportunities for children to learn the skills that they will need for their future. Intentionally using google and other technological tools to change their teaching content, pedagogy and role is vital.

So what does this change look like in a Prekindergarten classroom? Although changes are inevitable I feel that many of the components within this program can not and should not be replaced with technology, only enhanced.

During our debate in EC&I 830 this week, I heard the argument that children still need to memorize certain things and that they need to be given time to pause and be curious. I strongly feel that young children should be encouraged to discover answers to their questions, in the world around them, in nature, in art, in conversation. I would then use google etc. to enhance the learning experience of my students. I would use google to perhaps find answers to questions that have been explored with our class but need further information. Young children are not in a place in their development to have their learning solely online or solely in their own hands, however through uninterrupted play children can begin to build skills that will help them to navigate their world now and with the flexibility they will need in the future. Teachers in early childhood education have the responsibility to slowly step back and allow children the space to explore their own ideas and interests.

Image result for free images of children using ipads

Joe Ruhl talks about teaching methods that inspire. He demonstrates that teachers need to become a “guide on the side” that work to coach and inspire their students. Students need to be provided with choice for learning topics and learning tools. Students need to learn how to learn, how to find and gain knowledge in multiple ways, how to adapt and work with many personality types, how to critically think about content, in order to be flexible enough to succeed in an ever-changing world. We cannot predict what the future will hold for our students, for this reason we can never teach enough to keep up with the times. Instead we need to teach children how to become resourceful independent learners who can navigate technology but who can also navigate working outdoors, in offices, in teams, independently etc. We need to give children the freedom to explore interests, questions, and topics using many different tools so that when they leave school they know what they enjoy doing and can look for careers in those areas. Children need to be given space, freedom and tools to formulate their own ideas and opinions about the world around them and they need to have access to the ideas, opinions and work of people around the world through the use of technology.

I believe that we can not shy away from using technology in our classrooms. Children require these skills for the present and the future. Using google to provide a tool that children can use to explore their ideas and questions is important. Educators need to become “facilitator of knowledge” instead of “holder of knowledge” as Shelly states in her blog. Children also require space and time to explore in many other forms. Google can not be the only form of learning but just one tool in the toolbox.

I like what Dani writes about in her blog when she states that it is important to add a unit in Health on digital citizenship. I think this type of unit could be adapted from Prekindergarten all the way up to grade 12. It is important that children of all ages learn how to navigate the online world safely and intentionally. Upon reading about this subject, it is very clear that education needs to be updated and pedagogy needs to be reviewed. Educators are crucial and always will be. Our roles may be changing but we are as important as we have ever been. Although children need to be able to become independent learners, they still need a guide to ensure that they are accessing appropriate information and someone who will facilitate deeper thinking. So in conclusion, I do agree that teachers should be providing opportunities for their students to google their learning, but they should also be providing opportunities for many other forms of learning as well.

What do you think teachers should be teaching? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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4 thoughts on “What should teachers be teaching?

  1. Hello Esther,
    I enjoyed reading your blog regarding teaching things that can be googled! I agree with your comment that, “Although changes are inevitable I feel that many of the components within this program can not and should not be replaced with technology, only enhanced.” It nicely sums up what I think as well. Many component in education have to be taught without technology, such as hands on skills. In my nursing program, you cannot learn how to check a pulse by a computer program. However, there are technologically advanced mannequins that actually have a ‘pulse’ and can be felt by students! It still remains a “hands-on” skill.
    It sounds like you have stepped outside your comfort zone with technology – good for you! I still feel that same way, some days! Many times, my kids are the first ones to point out a new technology or phone app, such as when ‘SnapChat’ came out, or ‘Instagram’. They will be the first ones to use or try technology so as you said, that even though children have to become independent learners, they still, “require a guide to ensure that they are accessing appropriate information and someone who will facilitate deeper thinking”. They certainly won’t learn from ‘shortcuts’.
    Thank-You for your thoughts!
    Lori

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    1. I was just coming to leave a comment about how I really appreciated your thoughts on technology enhancing learning because I couldn’t agree more! I believe that there are facets of learning that just can’t be replaced by technology. Learning about something through a hands-on experience is so powerful, especially in a primary setting. Teaching students how to share that learning and engage in a conversation about someone else’s learning using technology tools certainly enhances that experience. Great post!

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  2. Great blog, Esther! Your caution with fully stepping into the world of technology allows you to be more globally observant about positive and negative effects about technology use in schools.
    As I was reading your blog, I began wondering what school will be like in ten years from now (shortly after I retire). In my career, I initially saw and participated in technology and the inclusion of Google be used for the sake of using and learning technology rather than to improve actual student learning. However, I would say that since technology and the ability to Google factual information has become more of the norm, a more healthy and productive balance is starting to occur. Technology is now more readily being used as a teaching tool rather than a fun distraction.
    Your thoughts on pre-kindergarten are interesting as well. I am wondering how this new generation, most of whom have been connected to tech from their emergence into the world, are connecting their exploration of the world around them to technology as a tool. I can imagine that they will not even consider the need to memorize dates or math facts when Google is at hand. However, I also think that immediate brain access to some knowledge is going to be necessary to actually carry on a conversation.
    I am hoping that this younger generation will have the support of balance between Google-The-Almighty and personal brain access to knowledge in their lives.

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  3. Excellent blog Esther! I really enjoyed your comments about teachers becoming the “guide on the side”. What a great analogy for how teachers can facilitate learning through the use of technology. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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