Friday, August 8, 2014


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“It is not people’s ignorance that you need to fear,” when introducing a new idea, rather it is “what people know which ain’t true any longer that causes all the problems” (Josh Billings 1818-1885)
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My oldest son Aidan is going to turn 15 in November. He is going to start high school in just three weeks. I worry that he does not read enough.

Last evening we went to Rustlers for a feed of Chicken Wings and a little bonding.

The conversation turned to reading which I have been gently but steadily been pushing him on for years.  His copy of The Catcher and the Rye, by J.D. Salinger has been opened a few times over the summer but for the most part it has been neglected and is far from finished. I thought this literary masterpiece about navigating the confusing and turbulent waters of adolesence might be relevant enough to hook him. Apparently not.

While offering a discourse on the importance of reading and good writing skills, Aidan pointed out that my ways were the old ways. "We do not learn by reading books anymore" he said. "We learn from the internet, from you-tube, on smart boards, from auditory and visual stimulation".

Although I consider myself to be fairly techie, it hit me that children prefer to learn in a stimulating environment that they can excel in. The old paradigms of learning have changed with the integration of information and communication technologies that have radically changed, while the methods of teaching have not. The old model of behaviouralism based on rewards, punishment and efficiency is failing kids. Sitting, listening, reading and memorizing facts for later testing is not working when the world is demanding different skills. 

Are our children over schooled and under educated? .

John Abbott is the president of the 21st Century Learning Initiative based out of the United Kingdom. Tell me what you think of his observations.


Anonymous said...

Peter the school system has failed kids because it removed reward , punishment, standards, and accountability. Countries like china will eat our lunch in the decades to come as they have a disciplined, well educated, accountable and coachable workforce who can accept success and failure. What we have entering the workforce now is a group who have tonnes of confidence but are short on execution. A group who are not used to being told no and therefore have issues dealing with failures. So the instruments of learning may be changing but they need to build on a solid foundation of accountability, success and dealing with failure and three "r"s.

Peter L. Whittle said...

I agree with you there has to be discipline, accountability and responsibility. This no fail thing is a set up for failure. I do think we need the three r's but we also need to adjust to the the new reality of the influence of technology.

All I know for certain is that we are spending a great deal on education and not getting the results our children deserve. The middle ground - a mix of the proven and the evolving works for me.

Aidan's comments gave me pause to reflect on that. He learns differently than I did.