Sunday, October 12, 2014

Five Ways My Kids are Growing in a Different World

Some people always call for back to basics. Decoding memorizing facts and old technologies (for example cursive writing). As the day No Child Left Behind predicted will be the day of 100% of students at grade level have come and gone we are left to wonder if the effort was the right one. We cannot deny, however, that kids today are growing up in a world that is changing while their progress is still measured in very old ways.

Watching my kids and students in elementary schools I can immediately see the transformation:
1. They judge the environment by access to wireless bandwidth. My son was asked (10) what was his favorite place for vacation. He answered: "Israel" (we spent a month there this summer). "Why Israel?"I asked. "They have the best internet connection..."

2. Information and entertainment are on demand. One day my 8 year old Itai came back and saw his brother (10) watching an epic episode of Phineas & Ferb. "Are you watching TV?" he said incredelously. The answer was of course, no, it was Netflix. Kids are used to able to access information and entertainment on demand- as they need it and at a touch of a button. They are information privileged but that demands a whole new way to be in the world.

3. They are global. Kids play games with players look at websites from all around the world. They use social media of different kinds with kids next door (sometimes in the next seat) to those across the globe.

4. Their lives are often defined by information overload and not information scarcity. The new information age is not actually more about abundance than scarcity making the old economic rules less successful in describing reality.

5. Reading and writing are no longer limited to print on page. There are rich multi modal compositions that are accessible to all kids (in connected societies).

These differences make growing up today very different than any other period in history and requires us to reconsider many aspects of modern education. Not because it has failed but because using old ways of thinking will privilege the few that already have full access to this new world.
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