I read a twitter post this morning from a teacher whom I very much admire. Though I don't want to quote directly, she said something about teachers preparing students for the past rather than the present, or much less the future. This is an accepted truth that is promoted widely in blogs, in tech conferences (including my own), and in other educational literature. Revered (by many and by me) educator Heidi Hayes Jacob often starts a presentation with the question slide, “What year are you preparing your students for?” The implied statement of this question is, “Not this year, and certainly not next year.”
I have had no problem with using this question/statement as a wake up call and a motivator, but today, somehow, it just hit me differently. Suddenly I heard the judgment behind the words, the sneer that has been in my own voice. The answer goes so far beyond saying that students are not being adequately prepared for the future. The subtext is that this problem is caused by teachers and administrators who either don't know or don't care to know that this problem exists or how to fix it.
The moral judgment of an objective truth can actually block progress. As with children, scolding is not a highly effective way to motivate adults. Yes, it's true that our current educational practices often do not prepare our students for many of the realities they will face in their professional lives. However, who's to say that our teachers prepared us for this world (or, by extension, if their teachers prepared them for that world).
With few exceptions (like Dr. Who) we all live in our current timeline. The way education has been organized, those in the current timeline create a learning environment for those on a different timeline. The dissonance is predictable, not solely because of short sighted educators, but because of the fundamental realities of time.
I am not suggesting that we stop moving forward, examining our practices, and projecting the future. However, perhaps we need to turn down the moral outrage and deal with this problem as a natural human condition rather than an aberration.
As always, I welcome your comments.
Image Credit: 'Day 214/365 – This picture is recommended+by+7+out+of+10+doctors'