Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Teaching for "Restless Natives"

Check out a thought-provoking interview with Deneen Fraser-Bowen at Innovate Online (register, but free). She talks about "a growing discontent among this current generation of students—or as Marc Prensky coined, the "digital natives", and she's got a point.

There is a huge technological divide between students and teachers, and the "on-demand" culture has turned educational expectations and rules upside-down. Some of her take-home points:

- students want more choice and influence in learning with greater flexibility as well as self-direction
- they want more opportunity for collaborative thinking - and it's "not cheating"
- they want more opportunities to evaluate alternative sources of information
- they enjoy diverse technology, like teaching with slides, audio, video
- memorization alone doesn't make sense

No wonder there is so much "checking out" of the school system in the middle and high school years. This is happening when teachers and school administrators are feeling more pressure than ever to ensure that all students meet basic standards. So the low achievers are the focus of attention, and middle to high achievers may be left to work things out on their own.

Here's another relevant article in today's New York Times (here), where one mom defends her choice to leave the public school system because "I could understand if test prep was part of the curriculum, but test prep was all of the curriculum." From today's Washington Post, a similar article: "Conspicuously missing from the debate over the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is a discussion of how it has hurt many of our most capable children. By forcing schools to focus their time and funding almost entirely on bringing low-achieving students up to proficiency, NCLB sacrifices the education of the gifted students who will become our future biomedical researchers, computer engineers and other scientific leaders."

Parents are right to worry. Motivation is not just "another thing" in school, it's the big thing in school. From this month's Parenting for High Potential, "A survey by Statistics Canada some years ago indicated that only 8% of school dropouts in the country mentioned academic problems as their reason for quitting; over 30% had been maintaining A or B averages before exiting. Obviously, many left who should not have been lost." Isn't that statistic shocking?

FYI: The NYT and Washington Post articles are currently free, but they may move to 'premium content' after a few days.

Leave No Gifted Child Behind

Education Evolving
Kid Influence Index from Harris
Gifted Dropouts

1 comment:

  1. rws1st12:45 AM

    In the modern day if your test is not open book, open note, open google, and you can ocasionaly talk to your friends, then you are presenting toy problems that have little to no relationship to how work gets done in the outside world. Might as well make sure everyone can start a fire with sticks.

    For a peek into a possible future:

    The school takes a few pages to reach :)