I recently attended the NCETC conference. I came out of the conference energized and excited over what we can/must do for America to keep pace with the rest of the world. I had already read The World Is Flat and was intrigued at all the things that were going on that I had no idea about. However, I was not surprised that education is not taking the role it needs to. I have been struggling with what we can do to make changes in education to prepare our students for a globalized society.
At the conference I attended David Warlick's session Telling the New Story. It was an excellent presentation that pulled together the challenges we are facing and some possible directions for us to head in (Find more about his presentation here).
Particularly of interest to me was his discussion of how we cut students off the minute they enter school from all of the technologies they use and learn from. I have to admit to being one of those "anti-game" people (although I'm changing I swear!). I play computer games and I have grown up with them. However, I have always believed that kids today are playing them too much. "Get outside and explore - don't sit in front of a computer screen!" is/was my motto.
I still feel that this is important. But I realize now that I've not been seeing the whole picture. Perhaps more importantly does it matter what I think? We can't go backwards. Games are not going to disappear. Kids are not going to stop playing them. We MUST use games and their ability to engage our students.
Another thought provoking idea that came out of this session for me was how out of touch I really was with the ways the internet is being used now. I have been going along thinking I'm at least partly up on what is the newest, coolest stuff. I was WRONG. It is incredible how differently our kids use the internet than how we use it. I go along happily and do my Google searches and check my email and play with Google Earth - but I do it in a vacuum. I collaborate with no one.
To illustrate this - I was at my in-laws for Thanksgiving. My 17 year-old brother-in-law is showing me his site on http://www.myspaces.com/ - I'm thinking well isn't that nice - it is cool that he has something like this - and look at how he is using it. I don't think the full implication of what he was showing me hit me until I was driving back from the conference last week. He is collaborating with other children across the country/world - he gets it - I don't.
I am determined to continue questioning myself and others about what is really going on (or not going on as the case may be) in education today. We are falling behind - quickly and yes quietly. We are not reaching out to our students. We must collaborate with others and find solutions. We must give games their place in education. We must change the way we teach students. We need to tell a new story - the old one is dead.