When I think about how the classrooms from the past compare to the classrooms of the 21st century, some things have remained the same. Our students still need to know the basics… math, reading, writing, science, social studies. But, I also see major differences.
Classrooms of the 20th century have students sitting in straight rows with a teacher in front “teaching” to the students. The teacher develops a lesson based on a fragmented curriculum. The student works on lessons that are textbook driven, independently and in isolation from their peers as they memorize facts and then regurgitate information back on tests. The teacher corrects the test and gives the student a “grade” and then move on to the next set of facts and information to be “taught” to the student. So the cycle goes…
Classrooms of the 21st century should paint a different picture. I see educators as facilitators rather than just teachers. The move in education is to guide students in their learning…taking what the student already knows and coaching them through project/research based lessons that are developed based on integrated curriculum. Rather than the student retelling information given to them, they should be discovering the information through research based projects done in collaboration with their classmates that allow for authentic learning…learning that can be taken into the real-world…learning that is assessed by their peers or a more world-wide audience.
Students should be “learning to learn.” The focus should be on the learning, not the teaching. Students need to be active learners and not like the passive learners from the past. Making school and what is learned relevant to students and connected to their interests, gives them motivation and satisfaction in doing a job that is well done. Teaching students how to work in groups collaboratively allows for our future “workers” to be able to participate in the global community that is already being established in other countries. These higher expectations give our students the tools and skills needed to compete in the workforce of the future.
How exciting to be an educator of today!