Recently, I wrote a post regarding some ideas that I did not believe that would transform school culture. Although most agreed on two of the ideas that I shared, there was a large contingent of educators that argued regarding the “flip” and are very passionate about what it can do for the classroom (one even referred to me as a “nut” for even suggesting this!).
Also, Forbes magazine talked about the Khan Academy and the “flipped classroom” being one of the most important stories of 2012. Whether it was inspired by Salman Khan or by educators, it has certainly stirred a movement:
Entire school districts are now reworking their curriculum, pedagogy, classroom structure and technology around Khan Academy videos. The net result of these changes is that students in Khan-centered schools don’t watch Khan videos in the classroom. They watch them at home. They use classroom time to do homework under the active supervision of their teacher (who serves as more of a learning lab tutor/coach) and fellow students (who, in technologically advanced classrooms, are digitally flagged when a classmate needs help). In perfectly melding with the collaborative learning ethos of the iGeneration, the Khan Academy has not only flipped the classroom, it’s flipped how we look at education.
As I see how passionate educators are regarding this idea, I can definitely see why it has merit. I also believe that this is something for some of our students, not all. I think back to hearing about the importance of “hands on” activities for learning, yet I know many students where that is not the best way that they learn. Even the notion that all students have to have “collaborative” skills in our world, yet there are many careers now and in the future where someone can work outside of a “group” environment. There is some important in students being able to have choice. It seems that we are too often looking for a “standardardized” solution for a “personalized” problem. Students need to have options and choice.
The Year of the Learner
Will Richardson wrote a powerful comment on my own blog talking about 2013 being the “year of the learner”, and it has deeply resonated with me:
My point is that if we keep seeing the point of school through the lens of “teaching,” nothing will be “transformed” in the sense that Papert talks about or in the sense that I think you mean it (though people’s bar for transformation is certainly varied.) Not saying we don’t need teachers…we need teachers who are masters at developing kids as learners who are adept at sense making around their own goals. Teachers who are focused on helping students develop the dispositions and literacies required to succeed regardless of subject or content or curriculum.
This moment is all about learners having an amazing new freedom to learn, not teachers having an amazing new freedom to teach. I’d love to see 2013 all about making that shift in our thinking around education.
As we continue to move forward, I agree that the “Flipped Classroom” and the use of Khan videos can be transformational for some students, but not all. The focus there is not necessarily on the learner, but about the teacher. Just like the idea that computers are great for many kids, but again, not all. The opportunities afforded by a computer opens up many avenues for learning, but just handing a device to a kid does not change how they learn.
We need to do more.
I agree with Will’s sentiments that as we move forward this year, we have to not get caught up on new ideas to implement in the classroom, but really connecting with our students, learning about them, and helping them to learn the way that works for them (the student), not us (the teacher).
Almost three year ago I wrote about the qualities that make a “master teacher”, and my first point was not about an idea, but about connecting with students:
“For all students to excel, teachers must learn about them and connectwith each child. This is not just about finding out how they learn, but it is finding out who they are. It is essential that we get to know our students, learn their passions, and help them find out how we can engage them in their own learning. If you are not able to do this as a teacher, the (other) characteristics will be moot.”
Want to transform education? We are going to have to do it one learner at a time because each and every kid we serve deserves that.