What should an information age school look like? Clarence Fisher has given me a bit of a glimpse of what is possible. I believe I need to let go of my control of the classroom content; all students doing the same thing in the same way at the same time. I would love to say that my own classroom has been a bee-hive of multiple tasks, but it has not been. I know that just as each assignment needs to look different because it has a different author, so to each classroom must look different as it has a different teacher.
What are the key components then in developing a school and a library which meet the needs of the information age? We need to develop creativity, critical thinking capacity and connectivity. Neat the three C’s! A complement to the three R’s perhaps.
Creativity –Darren Kuropatwa highlighted some important ideas on creativity recently. If we are going to start to cultivate creativity, we need to start to respect that all people have different skills and that each of those skills have value. In my son’s kindergarten class, there is a girl with a talent to draw and another with the talent to write. Each of them get recognition from the teacher for their talents and the energy with which they complete the journaling task. Watching them I wondered if it was my own bias or if underlying focus of making sure you add words to the journal, devalued the ability of the artistic girl. Each of them has a talent. School will not make them have the same talent. I hope that each of them will feel that they have something to contribute as they get ‘schooled’.
In an information age school, I hope we will see that the talents of each child will be valued and encouraged, that the media which allows one student to write music, another to capture video, another to dance and another to draw their responses to the ‘curriculum’ will be used to the best possible advantage. The school will need teachers who have a broad understanding of many possibiltities. Jack of all trades will be the best teacher in the information age. A teacher who is an expert at finding other experts.
Critical Thinking – We need to engage in analysis and synthesis and judging. Good old Bloom’s taxonomy. We need to do the high level thinking in the information age school. Quantity of information is no longer an issue: quality of information and finding good information is. Our ability to help with this critical thinking task needs to extend beyond our walls. Virtual libraries are a vehicle which can help teachers to continue to stand by students as they research and think about their findings outside of school time. We need to set good assignments. Assignments which take students beyond the surface of ‘oh this fits’ and an ‘I’m done’ mentality. Doug Noon was talking about this kind of reading today.
Connectivity – The information age will bring together students, teachers and all kinds of outsiders. An information age school needs to teach about how to be online participants. It needs to talk about the impact of an online identity. An information age school builds connections between its students and its teachers, its students and other students, its students and other interested adults. Look at this possibility connecting Sue Monk Kidd and a classroom.
Perhaps these three C’s are not a guidebook and checklist for producing an information age school, but they are a start. A BHAG, as mentioned by Scott McLeod today.