Tuesday, January 22, 2008

10 Things We Need to Unlearn

So it started with a Twitter post by Steve Dembo on 12/3 commenting how reading a blog post led to another, then another. So, naturally I decided to follow, but it took me down a different path to an older post by Will Richardson, which I found incredibly interesting. In my system we are about to embark on a 5-year strategic plan, and with that on the brain, many of the "10 things we need to unlearn" stood out to me.

"We need to unlearn the idea that we are the sole content experts in the classroom, because we can now connect our kids to people who know far more than we do about the material we’re teaching."

I think that is perhaps one of the most difficult things for a teacher to acknowledge. Most of us were educated in a classroom with a "sage on a stage", so it's what we're used to doing ourselves. When you've been the "diva" for so long, it's not easy to share the stage. However, our students are very savvy, connected, and we should expect more from them than the blank slates we've been used to encountering.

"We need to unlearn the idea that learning itself is an event. In this day and age, it is a continual process."

Amen! These days our classrooms are not the Utopia of learning they used to be. Acquiring and expanding our knowledge transcends those walls.

As a former French teacher, every new group of students would never fail to produce that one phrase that annoyed me beyond belief - "Why can't everyone just speak American?" American? What's that? Living where I do, the availability of authentic experiences for my students was rare as best. Now the opportunities they would have to make authentic connections boggle the mind. It almost makes me want to go back in the classroom...almost.

"We need to unlearn our fear of putting ourselves and our students “out there” for we’ve proven we can do it in safe, relevant and effective ways.

We need to unlearn the idea that we can teach our students to be literate in this world by continually blocking and filtering access to the sites and experiences they need our help to navigate."

Firewalls and blocked websites are the bane of my existence! Enough said.

These were just a few of the ten things that stood out to me. Hopefully I'll have a chance to reflect on more of them, but it took me six weeks just to get to these. Sad, I know, yet I shall keep trying!

Photo Credit: Jonas B Flickr