Sometimes we justify the things we do in education because they prepare students for the future or the “real world”. While I’m not faulting the sentiment, I often wonder if we are throwing darts while blindfolded.
In particular, I often hear one of the reasons for not radically shifting education in high school is to prepare students for post-secondary. We have to give students exams because they’ll be doing them in university. We have to give students tests in elementary because they need to be prepared for exams in high school. Maybe that’s right. But maybe we’re very wrong.
I was really interested to read an article that came across my twitter feed:
— Heidi Siwak (@HeidiSiwak) January 22, 2016
I was looking around my classroom today at grade one students as they played. The elementary experience we are developing for them now is not to prepare them for the high school and post-secondary world of today. Once they get there in 8/12 years, it will be very different. We don’t know the reality of their “real world”.
Quite frankly, many of our current educational practices don’t even match up to the “real world” of today, let alone the one that awaits our current students when they graduate.
In the context of our fast-changing world is “preparation for the future” still at the top of the priority list when it comes to the reason for school? I don’t know that I have a fully-formed opinion myself yet. If it’s not that, what should it be?
One thing I know for sure is that I enjoy teaching and learning a lot more when it’s about the now. The future is something obscure. Now is here and relevant to students. Instead of learning about how to create a website for a future potential job, what about creating a website about what we’re passionate about right now? I’m a big fan of not just learning about the world but instead participating in it right now. As a side-effect, will this also prepare students for the future? I hope so. I hope they develop the skills they need to always adapt to their now.