Sunday, November 22, 2009

Schools are the last!!


You Can Change The World
Originally uploaded by oclark53

I've been wondering when I would have the time to blog about my experiences at the NWP conference this past week. I had the opportunity to meet some true visionaries, all with the passion and drive it takes to empower kids through various digital mediums. It was truly refreshing and I had a HUGE take away- real change is NOT taking place during the typical school day.

This is not the 1st time this thought has occurred to me. I've been reading Dewey, Bruner and others for one of my classes at Pepperdine. These and other theorists wrote books as early as the 1930's describing what constitutes true learning experiences, and how traditional schools fail to address learners' needs. There's also and over arching theme of the social aspect of learning that's necessary for students to be engaged.

Many of the programs at the conference were aimed at celebrating student voices, while at the same time providing skills needed for the 21st century, but most of these were not during school hours or part of the "normal" school curriculum. Overwhelmingly these experiences occurred in after school spaces, community centers, and libraries. I had an extensive conversation about this with colleagues and I can't help but to be frustrated. After all, school is the one thing that all kids are mandated to experience. Why are schools so slow in responding to change and why has it been allowed to continue for so long?

With that said, instead of focusing on questions I can't possibly answer in one post, I have decided to do what Dr. Nichole Pinkard suggested in her panel discussion, which is focus on kids themselves. I can't worry about the system, the politics, teachers and administrators who refuse to see the relevance of challenging kids or anything else.

My goal is now simple: to reach the learners themselves and put the skills directly in within their reach. Luckily technology, particularly the growth of social networks and distance learning should make this more attainable, so wish me luck.