Must Teaching Really Change in the 21st Century?
Maybe I am just a cranky old man, or maybe I do not understand what others are talking about, or maybe both. I recently read an article in which the author stated that teachers must change their “delivery systems” when teaching the new Common Core Standards. The reason teachers need to change the way they teach is because the expectations are so different. You know, 21st Century skills, technology, blah, blah, blah.
Also, this past week I read an article recommended by a brilliant educational thinker, Janae Tovar, that claimed teachers and administrators are not communicating well because they’re using the same words but they don’t share a common meaning.
Have I misunderstood all those folks who have written that teachers must radically change instruction? I do not know what those folks have in mind when they write or speak those words so I cannot tell you what they mean. But, I can explain why those statements are making me crazy.
Standards are targets. You can change the targets, change the technology, but teaching stays the same. Teaching is a natural activity that in its essence is very simple.
The teacher uses the standard to identify the learning target. The teacher explains the concept. The teacher models how the concept is used. The teacher facilitates practice. The students practice independently. The teacher provides opportunities to use the skills in other circumstances.
I challenge you to test this process. Design a new lesson outcome. Ex. Students will conduct a short research project to answer a question by synthesizing multiple sources on the subject. The teacher explains the concept. The teacher models how the concept is used. The teacher facilitates practice. The students practice independently. The teacher provides opportunities to use the skills in other circumstances.
What has changed? The standards have changed, but the content within the disciplines has not. The technology has changed, but technology has always changed. Applications have changed, but applications have always changed.
We do not need to change teaching. As with all professional endeavors we can strive to be more efficient and effective.
For those of you who do not know me, let me tell you about one of my pet peeves. I hate it when people say that we have to teach differently because the targets, or the standards have changed.
I also hate it when people leave shopping carts in parking places or with two wheels in the planter boxes.