Another dot in the blogosphere?

I know where I am going. Do you? (Part 3)

Posted on: March 14, 2014

Recently I read a news article [original behind paywall] [free archive] on a broad change to our schooling system that might take place to counter outdated practices.

Rather than hand out a map with a well-marked path, there is a need to give every child a “compass and navigation skills”, said Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat.

Minister Heng added that the compass would also provide “a sense of purpose, a moral sense of right and wrong, perseverance, and care for other people”.

This has been a consistent message of our Minister for Education since he took over this portfolio in 2011. But I wonder if a compass and navigation skills are enough or even relevant in a world with GPS.

Knowing where you wish to go is one thing. Knowing what to do, how to do it, and why you do it at all during the journey is just as important.

The schooling equivalent of a compass and navigational skills might include a sense of purpose, the will, and the thinking and social skills of the learner.

Neither a compass nor navigational skills are enough. You need guides. Minister Heng referred to these guides as role models. The primary role models in school are teachers.

These teachers also experience a compass ceremony early in their careers and they are given physical devices to help them remember the symbolism of the event.

But I would rather each teacher and child be allowed to leverage on their own smart mobile devices and not just a compass.

Putting symbolism aside, these devices come with a compass and much more. There are tools to create, share, and discuss. These tools help them learn not only about content but also how to think.

Learning how to think for yourself and collaborating with others are more important than following a compass blindly. A compass will not show you how to avoid or overcome a barrier. Furthermore, compass is easily manipulated with a magnet. These magnets take the form of national agenda, curricula, religion, single-mode testing, etc.

I know what the future needs: Smart people with smart devices that connect with other smart people and are guided by even smarter people who are adept at navigating and learning this way.

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