Real world, wider world, better world
Posted January 4, 2016on:
There is a common phrase that thought leaders in education often use: Schools are disconnected with the real world.
They do not mean this literally, of course. They are referring to the bubble that schools create and operate in. For example, one only need look at math word problems, high stakes tests that you cannot retake quickly, and the general teach just-in-case approach.
Schools are part of the real world in the sense that students and teachers face real issues and problems. There is bullying, adjusting to change, learning on the run, dealing with difficult people, keeping to deadlines, following instructions you do not understand or believe in, etc. Now consider what the students face!
However, schools might not be as connected to the wider world as they could be. One need only think of mobile phone restrictions or outright bans as punitive measures for controlling human behaviour.
Today the phone is a key communication and connection tool, but some schools demand it be left out of the tool kit. As a result, both teachers and students do not learn how to use it effectively and responsibly for teaching and learning.
The adults and kids have already adopted behaviours about mobile phone use from home, their ride to school, the mall, and everywhere else but school. These behaviours are not what the school needs. For example, schools do not need people looking down at their phones while they walk, sending hateful texts, and using resources irresponsibly. The realms outside school — the real world — do not teach rationales and counter-behaviours.
So in that sense schools should not be part of the real world because it has to shape a better world. In order to do so, schools have to be better connected to the wider world so that they can problem-seek and problem-solve. They can start by officially welcoming mobile phones.
To make a better world, both teachers and students need to negotiate new behaviours with their phones in school. Schools might start with some questions. How might schools:
- connect with the wider world with these devices?
- leverage on phones to create a better world by communicating, sharing, and critiquing?
- help students find things out by themselves?
- help students find themselves?
- help students help others?