The 21st century won’t require traditional teachers or common classrooms.
It’ll be a hard pill to swallow for many, but if we’re serious about equipping American students with 21st Century skills—like critical thinking, problem solving and integrating competences for multi-disciplinary innovation—so they compete and win in a global marketplace, we need to completely restructure classrooms. This means less teachers and more facilitators; fewer books and more computer games; and no testing, but, instead, a greater focus on project based learning.
I’ve spent time in Philadelphia classrooms working under the banner of a 21st Century program, and I can vouch for the empowering environment a facilitator brings to an educational experience that aims to promote discovery and innovation.
My funding agency one day visited my classroom and was amazed to find me sitting at a student’s desk, while the student whose seating I was occupying was at the front of the class, assisting his 6 year-old peers in learning and transcribing drum patterns.
My students were even partly responsible for setting up and breaking down my drum set, which included identifying and sometimes spelling the names of the individual drum set parts.
Though I never formally tested my students, I had them perform and transcribe their drum solos almost daily, so we accomplished the goal of memorization through repetition, but we also embraced memorization through reflection and group participation.
Project based learning, which is what my students engaged in, is an education model that’s being adopted by many educators, though not yet at a rate which produces sizable returns on the taxpayer’s investment.
PBLs, though, are just the beginning of what’s in store for the future of education if we fully embrace technology and innovation in our classrooms.
The Department of Education, reports Polgyon, later this month will hosts its first Games for Learning Summit in New York City, with the goal being to demolish the barriers that exist between the interests of game developers and needs of educational games, while also finding new ways to make and distribute engaging and educational video games to classrooms.
According to Polygon, research conducted by the University of Indiana shows that a lot of modern students spend as much time playing video games as they do attending school. This fact presents to the Department of Education an opportunity to reinvent education and make it relevant to the students.
But beyond the academic function, this fact—and moreover its ability to attract actors across disciplines—opens up an opportunity to unearth new revenue sources. For example, a school district could partner with an educational video game publisher to develop, test and direct market the game, while receiving both upfront cash for R&D, and long term payments through royalties and revenue shares, licenses, etc.
In Philadelphia, where the school district is both financially unable to invest in innovation and lacks the capacity to motivate pupils to obtain careers in S.T.E.M, this type of partnership is ideal.
And, since it’s election season in Philadelphia—and in other cities—I urge citizens to inquire greatly of candidates and those politicians seeking re-election to see what their plan is for contributing to and advancing a 21st Century School District that delivers financial and social returns through innovative partnerships with institutions worldwide, and that re-purposes teachers as education and innovation facilitators.
The future for our children’s education should be a matter of social priority, not political monopoly, which means we should always be doing what’s in the best interest of society, not just groups of special interest.
It’s in the interest of us all to have a workforce that’s capable, functional and desirable, which requires our education system to reflect the same characteristics.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™