Changes in the world are creating the most affluent population ever to walk the earth alongside some of the most abject poverty. I believe we are living in a world with more and more opportunity to be successful. By 2020 I think it will be harder and harder to be in the middle class. Either you rise up to an upper middle class level or you will be in the working class or the poor. This is because of the fierce global competition that all of us face and that our children will be facing.
This is why we have to take education seriously, to prepare our kids to succeed in the face of the most competitive world there has ever been. It’s not going to be alright to be competent in your job anymore, it’s going to be mandatory that you are indispensible. These ideas are discussed in Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, and The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman.
These changes make it more and more important that we change our focus in school from memorizing and passing the test to producing students who can think for themselves and change the world. We need kids who can write, who can work together, who can lead, who can speak, and who can solve problems. The changes in the world I described above make these skills even more important. If we change our education in order to let our kids compete and actually learn these real world skills in school, we can impact the world in a very positive way. If we keep focussing on standardized testing, memorization, and copying notes, we’ll get kids who are really good at those things but who can not function or succeed in the workforce and in the world.
If I continue to the do the work that I believe that I was born to do, if I continue to put all of my children that enter into my classroom first, if I continue to make sure that every child leaving my classroom leaves with the tools they need to succeed, then those children will grow up to become adults that can change the world.
That’s why we all teach right? We believe that our actions today will help make the world a better place tomorrow. I hope the world is a better place because the students that I taught grow up to be good men and women who believe that their actions matter.
One innovation I want to continue is encouraging my students to produce their own meaningful content and then to publish that content for others. I want my students to be creators not just consumers. I want them to be able to work in teams to accomplish big things.
I’m going to continue to innovate in my classroom and I’m going to continue to encourage any student teachers that I supervise to do the same. As teachers we have a tremendous impact on the future and we need to take that responsibility seriously.
I hope that being a teacher in 2020 will be an improved, respected, and sought after profession in 2020. If we continue to go down the road of blaming all teachers for the mistakes of a few bad teachers, this will not be the case. One of the paths we are on is a path that values standardized testing, memorization, and punishing teachers. In that path is a general belief that kids should either be lectured to or that kids should be hooked up to computers and put in large rooms with a teacher watching 50-150 kids as a “facilitator.” If we try to turn education into a commodity and teachers into interchangeable parts, this will do a tremendous disservice to our students.
If we realize that, yes, there are good and bad teachers, like there are good and bad lawyers, doctors, plumbers, etc and instead focus on what we are doing right and how we can do more of that, we’ll be able to help our kids more.
We need to realize that education is messy, time consuming, and expensive. Human beings all need different things and to make human connections between students and teachers– connections that are meaningful and change lives– takes an incredible amount of time, emotional work, and effort. There are no shortcuts for human interaction and deep learning.
In the 21st century, more and more of this meaningful interaction will occur online and that is why it is important for teachers to learn how to build these meaningful learning networks online. This will probably start out as professional development for teachers, but if anyone thinks we won’t be bringing mobile technology into our classrooms in the next 5-10 years (probably 2-5 years) you will be in for quite a surprise
I have a former student who wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and she would have been the kind of kindergarten teacher that I would want my future kids to have, but she wasn’t going into teaching because there weren’t jobs and because she felt like teachers were always being attacked. We need girls and boys like this enthusiastic, bright, compassionate student to become teachers and if we don’t address this issue as a culture, it will have dire consequences for our educational system and for our future.
Teachers will have to embrace change and do whatever they can to improve their classrooms including learning new technologies. If they aren’t willing to do this for their kids, they will not be successful and they are in the wrong profession. Teaching is not a career where you can afford to be inflexible and learn slowly. The consequences of not learning new things and growing as a teacher is that your students will learn less.
I am going to do everything I can to make sure that I grow as a teacher so my students can grow into the people that will change our world!