In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. Eric Hoffer
Since I last left you, I went out last night to a nice dinner at a local St. Louis brewpub with a group of the people from All-American Public Schools who are attending NQEC. We had good food and good discussion about our day at dinner, and then a few of us hung around upstairs and played pool or shuffleboard. It’s fun to have some time to spend together in a more relaxed mode since our work days are usually so hectic.
This morning I had to participate in a non-convention conference call for work, so I didn’t jump into the sessions until around lunch time. Today’s convention highlight had to be the keynote by Ian Jukes. Jukes is an educator and public speaker from Canada who focuses on meeting the challenges brought to us by the exponential expansion of information and the radically different ways in which the new generation of students learns. He spoke about the brain research that’s been done recently that shows that different generations of people actually use different portions of their brains to perform the same mental tasks, depending on if they were raised in the pre-television era, the television era, or today’s digital age. He calls the current generation of kids “digital natives” and our generation “digital immigrants.” All of you currently exploring the blogosphere will be pleased to know that you’re on the cutting edge of immigration. His challenge to the audience was to redesign the way that school curriculum is delivered so as to better meet the needs of today’s learners–both academically and as a way to prepare them for the challenges they’ll meet in the future.
These types of challenges and thought-provoking sessions and presentations are the reason it’s important to come to national conventions. Education is certainly a traditional field, one in which it’s easy to fall back on the familiar methods of instruction, just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” An example is the ban of much of the new technology on school campuses. We ban iPods and cell phones; we block access to social networking sites. One of the topics I want to bring up for discussion upon my return home is how do we strike a balance between the need to protect students from online predators and sexual or other school-inappropriate content and the need to equip our students with the skills needed to successfully navigate the technological world. It’s no simple question and no easy task.