Learning Beyond School
In his TED talk, What 60 Schools Can Tell Us About Teaching 21st Century Skills, Grant Lichtman explains that transforming learning in a public school setting is not impossible. It can and is currently being done. Schools, however need to do a better job of learning from each other. I have personally witnessed the prideful attitudes that prevent many districts from gleaning knowledge from other districts. We need to abandon the notion of simply “fixing” the existing system. We must consider transforming those practices with the ultimate goal of teaching students to carry on their learning outside of the school setting.
Students should connect what they are learning in school with what goes on outside of school. Currently students associate learning with school because schools isolate what students are learning to make it appear they only need it for school. Schools should not only connect what students are learning to the real world, but should also teach kids how to learn to solve problems that they will inevitably encounter outside of school.
21st century learning is a buzzword that gets thrown around often when discussing how to prepare students the future. However, it is important to know what 21st century learning actually means for today’s classrooms. Schools must challenge the traditional concept of teaching. Learning should reflect what students understand not just what is taught or even what they appear to know. Learning in the 21st century involves students actively exchanging information in a real world context instead of passively receiving information in a isolated, artificial context. Teachers should model wonder, encourage students to ask questions, connect learning, frame natural curiosity in terms of solving a problem and then leverage this natural curiosity and tendency to ask questions to help children develop the skill of analyzing and creating systems. Students will collaborate and use critical thinking skills to investigate, question and synthesize what they are learning. Students’ ability to do this type of reasoning is what is crucial to preparing them for learning beyond school, not the subject matter that is being taught.