As a teacher, I often hear people complaining about schools today. They usually explain to me that the way they were taught was just fine; they don’t see the need for change. Well, let me tell you, there is a need for change in the way things are done in school. The world is not the same place it once was, the expectations for what a person can do upon graduation is not the same and the role education plays in the lives of many children is quite different than it used to be.
One of the major changes I have made is fully integrating the use of technology in the classroom. I began as a die-hard English teacher that promised that I would never lose the need for paper and was heartbroken at the idea that children didn’t know how to write in script. But I became a teacher who went nearly paperless last year. Technology is not the answer, but it is an incredible tool to help prepare students for today’s world.
When we recognize that the world is tremendously different than it used to be, we can begin preparing students for the future, rather than preparing them for the past. A clear example of this is recognizing that requiring students to just memorize course material to prove that they can remember an obscure fact is not preparing them for the future. Giving students the opportunity to take risks, to identify what they do know and what they don’t know and assisting students in creating a skill set that allows them to find needed answers, while still providing them with a well-rounded education is what is required for teachers to do today. I personally am finding that by embedding technology in my classroom, I can address necessary skills, while still preparing my students for the future.
Problem solving, basic computer skills and the ability to find information quickly are all requirements to live and work in the world today. Nearly every job has an expectation of a certain level of technological proficiency. If this is the expectation in the real world, shouldn’t our teaching help to promote this understanding of technology.
I understand that many people feel that students have enough access to technology in their own lives, but this is not always the case. The access some children have is rather limited and the personal and recreational use of technology does not prepare them for using technology in an academic or professional setting. For many children, their school provides their only access to the internet and a working computer.
By bringing technology into the classroom, by embedding it into my teaching, I have been able to reach students that in other settings I would have not been able to reach. It has given students with no access to technology at home, a place to learn, discover and even sometimes play. It creates an environment of discovery and self reliance. My classroom looks nothing like the classrooms I learned in, but that is okay with me. I am not preparing students for today, I am helping them to create tomorrow.