Magazine article Technology and Children

The Difference

Magazine article Technology and Children

The Difference

Article excerpt

A short time ago I read The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman 2005). In the most recent edition, Friedman makes a significant effort to address education in a world he sees becoming much smaller and competitive, yet with greater opportunities. The question of, "What are we doing for our kids?" to prepare them for this changing world has haunted me ever since. What are you doing for your children? Do you really believe there is a difference in today's society? What are you doing different to address it?

In the early 1990s I worked as a manager in a large, very successful software company that employed over 5,000 people. The company held over 80% of the market share in their particular niche and things looked great. The company treated its employees very well, was honest in its dealings, made a great product ... and is virtually extinct today. They were beat at a game they started--a game their competitor watched, studied, and eventually ruled. Years later I went to work for the "enemy." I had only been out of the corporate world for a few years, but by the end of the first day I remember feeling like I either needed to crawl under a rock and hide, or become better than anyone else around me at what I was being asked to do. That evening, I stared at my yellow notepad trying to make sense of my notes and over 20 new acronyms, wondering what to do. Before my meetings the next morning I knew what every one meant and had plugged the holes of knowledge that had so intimidated me the day before--thanks to the Internet!

Is the world different today than it was in the past? Of course it is! One of the greatest differences is that our kids are sure to face uncertainty and change. Friedman refers to 10 key change agents, events or technologies as "flatteners" that have allowed and will continue to propel global change in our society. From the Berlin Wall coming down, to browsers, outsourcing, offshoring, uploading, supply-chaining, insourcing, informing and wireless, VoiP, and file-sharing, there appears to be convergence of these events around the globe. Kids will need to be able to deal with the interaction of the flattening phenomena, develop new work habits, and become competitive with not only the US labor force, but talent from Asia, India, and other newly developing countries.

So how can we adjust? What can we do with our kids to make a difference in their lives and in their futures? Princeton economist Alan Blinder suggests that, in the future, how we educate will be more important than how much we educate. Our methods of teaching must help kids learn how to learn. As teachers, we must motivate kids to want to learn so that they can teach themselves. "Ha!" you are thinking, "That is great for those college kids, but I work with 25 to 150 little kids every day." Yes, I understand; but you can change and most likely, you need to change. You don't need to change everything, but just one or two things could open up a window of other ideas. Here are five suggestions for making slight modifications to your instructional approach that might help make change easier.

1. "No objective day"

In a recent professional development seminar, every third or fourth slide had the title "objective" on it. In my daughter's school, the kids have to write down in their planners the objective for every class period; and at any given time throughout the day they receive a low mark if they are unable to spout out to the teacher what the objective is for that particular class and lesson. …

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