cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by jfcherry
The discussion paper at the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning website is likely to have some educators and community members reflecting about the future. Many others are too busy marking pen and paper Trial HSC exams, organising the 2013 timetable, enrolling Year 6 and the plethora of teaching, administrative and pastoral roles carried out in the yearly cycle of the school year to engage fully in such a discussion. I do hope that some find the time, even if it is only on the first question in the Minister’s discussion paper:
Before commencing my response, it must be said, there is a terrible irony, evident to all, in the national/state discussion at the moment about improving ’21st century skills’ regarding the demise of the federal Digital Education Revolution (DER) funding. Our current Year 8 students will be issued with laptops in 2013 but after that, the funding has gone. It is also likely the TSO (Technical Suport Officer) will be too making management of the remaining devices challenging in a post 2013 world.
We should be extending the DER program to stage 3 and 4 rather than ending it. The former Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, did more for education with this funding than any other move I have seen in the last 20 years of working in schools. The equity value was high and the NSW DEC rollout and support excellent.
What knowledge and skills will our children need to thrive? They will need everything required during the 20th century and a great deal more.They will need knowledge and skills that assist them to, in order of importance, become:
1. emotionally and physically healthy, resilient and happy
2. critically (multi)literate thinkers and informed citizens of a democratic nation
3. technologically savvy digital citizens in a global economy
‘Learning how to learn’ is the key skill to be gained, for people of all ages, to realise the above and other worthy goals.
They do not need ‘pen and paper’ HSC exams
It seems obvious that important educational leaders in education, parents and politicians need to reform this anachronistic examination system. There seems little point in engaging in a prolonged discussion about ’21st century’ skills and then asking students to write quickly, regurgitating onto the page, a skill that is not at all useful for their immediate or longer term future. Knowing that some students prepare for their three hour exam papers by strapping lead to their hands, whilst completing practice papers, makes for stark contrast with the needs of a contemporary society.
It would be wonderful if parents and students, currently about to engage with the HSC exams, were able to make contribute to this discussion but one assumes everyone is too busy preparing.
I urge you to read the discussion paper, circulated by the NSW Minister for Education, located at Great Teaching, Inspired Learning website. Please consider participating in the online forum from the 24th August.
SLIDER IMAGE: cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by ms4jah
I saw in the Digital Education Revolution hope, some kind of vision for the future. The funding is gone, but just before the funding, those who saw 21st century skills as being vital, those who thought that learning just doesn’t occur in the four walls of the classroom, with the teacher centre stage but think that collaboration and connection between students, teachers and schools will continue to embrace what makes sense: learner as something that is not stagnet, but fluid.
From day 1 of the DER I personally and professionally faced colleagues who would openly describe such things as students blogging as a waste of time. That students having access to content online, beyond the hours of the school was a waste of time. That students listening to podcasts, or even more shocking, making their own, as a waste of time. Did the pen and paper exam at the end influence all of this? Yes.
Thankfully, those HSC students of mine who interacted with other students via video conferencing, who posted questions and replies on the class blog, who made podcasts of their essays, who used email (yes, imagine that, email!) to test thesis and premises for narratives, scored much higher in that final exam than those who didn’t. Those same students were the ones also taking notes in class, involved in class discussion, those activities that all teachers think are a part of learning. I would never say that taking teacher notes or being involved in class discussion is a waste a time (well may be I would…), yet, my methods that added to those everyday learning styles were be labelled a waste of time.
My thoughts exactly Darcy. I am glad I am not the only one out there who is supervising Trial HSC exams and thinking: “is this what it all comes down too?”
With first child about to sit HSC, to stressed to consider this, I asked mr15 if he thinks things will be different for ms6 when she’s in the final two years of school. He was adamant, “it will be different”. I very much hope he is correct.