I teach technology. Well, actually I teach one of America’s most amazing natural resources. I get to teach ninth grade humans, most of who are 14-15 years old. I, on the other hand, turned 61 a week ago. It’s becoming more of a challenge to keep up, but I digress.
I told my students this week that I would rather that they become more proficient at asking the right questions, than more adept at recalling answers. Algebra, I told them, had not changed a great deal in the last 1,000 years or so. World geography changes with the speed of shifting tectonic plates. English grammar? Well, only slightly faster. Technology? Don’t get me started. All too often, the technology I understand at breakfast is hardly the same technology that I will teach in my afternoon sections. “Get good at asking the right questions and you can deal well with the rapid pace of change in technology,” I said.
I am trying to bring depth to a knowledge-based technology applications course, filled with factoids and steeped in basic skills. For almost 15 years, I sought to integrate technology into English classes of seventh and eight graders. For the past two, I have sought to integrate biology and geography and English and Algebra into my technology. My world is backwards and upside down — both at the same time.
To accomplish that, I became a student of inquiry-based learning this past summer, and I have determined to shift from a lecture-based show and tell model , to an independent learning-based model in which students learn not only the “what” and the “how” of technology applications, but the “why”. I don’t want them to merely efficiently download a world of information. I want them effectively change their world.
For the student who was amazed that WWW made such a “cool” abbreviation for a phrase that she grew tired of typing (“world wide web”) — as though she, herself, had invented the abbreviation — I challenged her to live without the “WWW” for a day in order to measure its influence on her life.Her standardized test would ask her what WWW means. I would want her to also know what the WWW means to her.
So I am seeking an innovator’s mindset. I have enrolled in a course being designed by the author of The Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros, along with more than 1,000 other educators. I could not be more excited about the opportunity to challenge myself so that I can become more adept at challenging my students.