I Bid Ye Fare Thee Well

6 Mar

I had a lovely farewell with a group of parents and colleagues the other day, as I again moved on from one school to the next.  While this was a great chance to catch up it made me ponder the changes that had been instituted there as well as at subsequent positions before this.  I must say here and now that I don’t think I initiated or made the changes, but rather it was my management of the changes and my leadership of the staff as we felt the undercurrent of change drag us along.  So then what challenges will I face in my next tenure?

1. DESKS
The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows, so should students? Do we allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning?

2. LABS
Knowledge acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.

3. COMPUTERS
Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: ‘Our concept of what a computer is’. Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we’re going to see the full fury of individualised computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can’t wait.

4. HOMEWORK
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever academics or politicians might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).

5. THE ROLE OF STANDARDISED TESTS as a prerequisite
I predict that the SC is on its last legs and the HSC isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 prerequisite for TAFE and university admissions.

6. DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION AS A SIGN OF DISTINGUISHED TEACHER
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work.

7. FEAR OF WIKIPEDIA
Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it’s time you get over yourself.

8. PAPERBACKS
Books were nice. In ten years’ time, all reading will be via digital means. And yes, I know, you like the ‘feel’ of paper. Well, in ten years’ time you’ll hardly tell the difference as ‘paper’ itself becomes digitized.  How many of you now grab national news via the net or mobile, and only peruse the paper to occupy your mind as you sit in the staffroom or waiting room?

9. ATTENDANCE, FEES and ORDERING
Bio scans, bio scans and bio scans.

10. LOCKERS
A wardobe?

11. I.T. DEPARTMENTS
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.

12. CENTRALISED INSTITUTIONS
School buildings are going to become ‘homebases’ of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on site at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.

13. ORGANISATION OF EDUCATIONAL SERVICES BY GRADE
Education over the next ten years will become more individualised, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.

14. TEACHER TEACHERS THAT FAIL TO INTEGRATE TECHNOLOGY
This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Universities have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modelled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.

15. PAID/OUTSOURCED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN (professional learning networks) in their back pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of schoolwide professional development programs. This is already happening.

16. CURRENT CURRICULAR NORMS
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many unit of the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in Yr 5-8 providers to a role as foundational content providers and Yr 9-12 schools as places for specialised learning.

17. PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.

18. TYPICAL CANTEEN FOOD
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $5.00 lasagne in foil containers. At least, I so hope so.

19. OUTSOURCED GRAPHIC DESIGN AND WEB DESIGN
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade — in the best of schools — they will be.

20. MANDATORY ALGEBRA as an example
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to complete courses in primary/’middle’ school.  We’ll have finally woken up to the fact that there’s no reason to have content like algebra as a prerequisite for anyone other than the absolute few who will continue to use it. 

21. PAPER
In ten years’ time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.

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One Response to “I Bid Ye Fare Thee Well”

  1. Belinda Blain March 8, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    Homework 24/7 is happening in stage 3 at EMPS. Our homework provides the opportunity to access spelling activities and develop spelling strategies online @ Spellingcity.com.au each week.
    We are providing links on our class blogs to assist children(and their parents) to extend their knowledge across all learning areas.
    S3B kids have the opportunity to recount their wekend on the class blog. Some kids do this on Saturday or Sunday. I often know how their weekend went before school on Monday morning. Authentic learning does not start at 9am and finish at 3pm.

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