Thanks to Kris for prompting this post….
Reading this article by Marc Prensky made me think about what school is for. The premise is that students today are so used to having a variety of stimuli coming at them, they are bored in school where teachers don’t engage them sufficiently in the lessons. [He makes another point about the curriculum not being relevant, but I’ll get to that later.]
True, many of us teachers could do a better job of involving our audience. We all have off days when we give a less than brilliant performance, but here is my beef: schools are for learning. And learning isn’t always fun and is very often hard work, and as teachers we do our best to plan interesting lessons within the constraints of timetables, curricula and external examinations… but at the end of the day we are devising ways to help our students learn skills, learn stuff. And sometimes it can’t be an all-singing, all-dancing lesson.
He makes a good point about the curriculum in schools, though:
Yesterday’s education for tomorrow’s kids. Where is the programming, the genomics, the bioethics, the nanotech—the stuff of their time? It’s not there.
We do some modern stuff. But change is slow. There’s the need to get everybody to buy into it – teachers, parents, tertiary education establishments, employers, examination boards, students. Speaking from a personal standpoint – as a Biology teacher – I have seen many changes in the syllabus over recent years. We now teach about biotechnology and ethical issues in science. We discuss stem cell research and cloning. But we are always going to be behind in many ways. We can’t know what discoveries will be made in the future that will shape our understanding of science.
So, back to the article. While I accept a lot of what is written, I need to remember that I am a teacher first, children’s entertainer … no, not even second. A few more things come inbetween – counselor, facilitator, motivator, coach, advisor, supervisor, guide, role model, etc.