Will there be schools in 2022? While the technologies that transform how we live and learn will proliferate and evolve, students will still need to learn, and ten years from now children will still congregate in classrooms. What I hope is that we can leverage technologies in the classroom to better facilitate student learning, to move toward models where students actively engage with and create using technologies, and to evolve the idea of curricula as a codified set of knowledge.
One of the many obstacles to improving existing educational paradigms is the emphasis on assessing learning using standardized testing. While existing curricula focuses on covering a fairly rigidly group of agreed upon facts, the school of the future ought to be refocused towards what Papert calls “powerful ideas.” We currently have virtually instantaneous access to all knowledge, and this is numbing instead of enlightening (Key). And students of the future are better served not just with facts committed to memory but to learn to engage with bigger ideas of how to think and create knowledge for themselves in a world in which facts and figure are instantly available and rapidly changing. The most important knowledge that can be imparted on students is equipping them to create and find their own knowledge (Papert).
Creating and Learning
In the school of the future, technological fluency will be as important as reading and writing. And technological fluency does not mean becoming a more active consumer of technology but rather a creator and maker using digital tools. (Resnick). Often today, digital tools are designed to mimic their analog counterparts, disguised as radical new tools to teach technological literacy but in fact new delivery methods for students to consume old-fashioned knowledge. In the school of the future, I hope students can learn by creating and making using technologies. Because we are wired to believe what we see, we best learn new by building on our own knowledge, and it’s particularly important that children build on what they already know (Ackerman). And act of making things using technology can creates internal shifts to embodying knowledge:
We can speak of a microworld as “embodying” a subdomain of mathematics or science: not because of some reifying link between the representation and the mathematical or scientific entity, but because of the opportunity that such environments provide for learners to kinesthetically and intellectually interact with the designers’ construction of these entities, as mediated through the symbol system of a computer program (Edwards)
An improved model requires a shift from understanding learners as passive receivers of knowledge to active creators: to builders of things, to digital creators, equipped to access and explore powerful ideas.