I really had some great conversations at TIES in Minneapolis over the last couple of days, but one of them kind of stuck out to me. We were talking about the “Hour of Code” and how popular (and important) it has become to many schools. I think the power in this program is that it is not meant to only last an hour, but spark something more not only in kids, but schools. It is definitely going to have many teachers thinking about ways they can implement coding as part of the work that they do in schools everyday, and I’m excited to see schools move forward with this.
But here is the problem…
There are only so many hours in the day. The time frame of school from when I went in the 80’s, is the same time allotment that is given today. So with every new thing that comes along, something has to go.
The first thing that many people debate about is “cursive”. Some schools are getting rid of it, and some schools are trying to bring it back. The debate should not be about cursive, but about what do our kids need now, and what will they need in the future. Even when I went to school, there are many things that I learned that I do not use at all either on a consistent or semi-regular basis. Yet I have many skills that make me a successful learner today; did my “schooling” play a role in that? In some ways yes, and in some ways no. That is the tough part of the conversation.
There are a lot of thoughts and questions that go into making these decisions, but one that should not be included is a feeling of nostalgia. Schools should not teach something solely for the reason that we learned it as kids. The world has changed, and with access to all of the information in the world, as well as people, schools have needed to change as well. I don’t think should only be about what kids want to learn, but should have a balance of things that we know will be important, but also about providing them skills they will need in the future. Schools should also provide opportunities to explore things that students might not necessarily want to explore on their own.
There are a lot of tough decisions that we have to make moving ahead in schools, but really, if we try to teach everything, do we develop a group of kids who become experts at nothing?
Here are two questions for you…
What do we teach now that we shouldn’t?
What don’t we teach now, that we should?