For as long as I can remember, my dad reminded me that there are few things in life that I can control, three of which are my effort, attitude, and treatment of others. It is because of this lesson that I believe I have been successful and am happy in my life. Late in my high school career, I realized I wanted to help other people learn to control these three things as well, and that is when I knew I wanted to teach.
Teaching puts me in a position to do what I am passionate about every day. First, I am passionate about preparing my students for the competitive job market of the 21st century. It is predicted that the average student in America will have 10-15 jobs (Shareski, 2006). This is incredible to even consider, and I believe it is partly because many of the jobs for which they will apply do not even exist today. While this may seem daunting to some, I believe it should inspire students to maintain control of what they can: attitude, kindness, and effort.
Attitude and kindness often go hand in hand. It is safe to say that no one in this world has gone through life without climbing some steep hills and fighting some battles. Having the ability to face those challenges with 100% effort and energy, despite their outcomes, leads to true contentment. In the job market, there is significant competition because we have come to a standstill with developing brand new products and services. Customer service is becoming more important than ever and companies need workers with positive attitudes who want to add to a desirable workplace environment. If my students can learn to embody these qualities, they are that much closer to being invaluable.
A final passion of mine is encouraging effort, specifically effort in learning and pride in one’s own work. I believe the world needs more people who want to take it upon themselves to “pursue information for its own sake” (Godin, 2012, p. 13). We need more students and adults who are intrinsically motivated to learn. All too often, we are happy with putting forth minimum effort. I believe the best rewards are not monetary or public, but are internal. I hope every day, week, month, or school year I am able to continue to help students understand the value of self-worth and how that is determined by the individual and his pride in himself. With internal motivation, a positive attitude, and a kind heart, I have no doubt that these students will live happily and successfully.
Emerging Issues Related to Digital Learning
I believe there are many current issues related to digital learning, but they are very similar across the state, regional, national, and global levels. First, there are issues with availability in schools. Similar to our economy, the rich seem to be getting richer while the poor get poorer. Those schools that struggled to afford adequate text books and traditional supplies are now faced with more significant costs for technology. At the same time, other prolific schools are wasting money by purchasing every new program available. This obsession with digital learning is creating a bigger divide between districts.
There are also emerging issues related to teacher roles. This begins with professional development and supplying teachers with the tools to successfully use technology in the classroom, but it then develops into resistance, and potentially fear as the role of teachers has been increasingly challenged with new cyber advancements (Nagel, 2013). Because the use of technology seems more like an option instead of a requirement, many teachers refuse for these reasons. It is intimidating knowing that there are many high school students out there who do not require a teacher and are able to learn on their own, but I believe that is another reason teachers need to implement technology to improve their own effectiveness.
An additional concern regarding digital learning is availability. Even in schools that have access to the necessary programs and tools, there are issues with connectivity and availability. Several times in my own classroom I have had to adjust a lesson to exclude technology because a lab was double booked or the server went down. These are consistent concerns in my own building, and I believe we have advanced technology access. Outside of school, students who do not have computers or internet at home then struggle to keep up with the rest of the class. Adjustments and extensions can be agreed upon, but the student inevitably feels alienated.
The Pros and Cons of Current Education
Today’s education has been consistently critiqued throughout my life. One major reason that this continues to occur is that people, in general, struggle with change. I cannot even remember how many times I have heard an adult say, “Back when I was in school…” or “We did it that way and turned out just fine.” The truth is that people are hesitant to make changes, and when they are made, people fight them. Despite this there are some great things going on in current education, and there are still some changes that need to be made.
Currently as a nation we are asking our students to perform higher-order thinking tasks as opposed to memorization. In the past, the focus was on what, who, and when, but now we are asking them to ask why and how. This shift is incredible and has encouraged originality and pride. We are no longer teaching books in English classes but are instead using books as a commonality through which we teach life lessons and skills. Additionally, students, teachers, and entire schools are being held accountable for consistency. I believe it is important for teachers and administrators to share this responsibility with students. It encourages better practices and communication between and across disciplines. While there are many pros to current education, it is far from perfect.
Some of the positives actually overlap with negatives. For example, schools are more test-focused now than we have ever been in order to measure accountability amongst students, teachers, and schools. It seems that everything we do is preparing them for state tests or SATs, and “in order to efficiently jam as much testable data into a generation of kids, we push to make those children compliant, competitive zombies” (Godin, 2012, p. 25). Schools are also creating an environment in which students are afraid to be wrong. Without encouraging them to take chances and be happy with those risks taken, they will never come up with original ideas (The Learner Online, 2012). Simply put, we seem to be preparing our students to be obedient, when jobs primarily requiring this skill do not exist anymore. Education needs to move forward to help encourage our students to want to learn and find information (Godin, 2012, p. 153). If we produce life-long learners who are positive and enthusiastic, we will have done our jobs and they will be successful in whatever futures they choose.
Godin, S. (2012). Stop stealing dreams. Retrieved from http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/stopstealingdreamsscreen.pdf
The Learner Online. (2012, July 22). Sir Ken Robinson- multiple intelligences.mp4 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnnl5hmrglQ
Nagel, D. (2013). 6 technology challenges facing education. The Journal. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/Articles/2013/06/04/6-Technology-Challenges-Facing-Education.aspx?Page=1
Shareski, D. (2006, September 20). Education today and tomorrow [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fnh9q_cQcUE