Why Today's Schools Must Be More Dynamic
As he and his mom approached the street corner, he darted away from mom and made a beeline to the crosswalk button. Standing on tiptoe, he pressed the button and fixed his gaze on the light, anticipating the desired change of color. I could tell by the way he walked, pushed and waited that this was not his first time at the crosswalk pole. Once assured the light had changed, he quickly redirected back toward his mother and continued to trail her as she made her way down the street.
That brief moment of time, while I waited for my light to change, and he waited for his, made me think. Children are inquisitive. They are thinkers, and more important, they are "touchers." When a child pushes a button - even a child as young as 2 or 3 - the child expects something to happen!
This is the generation that is coming to our schools where, by and large, we don't have a dynamic and interactive system. The real world, the one which they explore now and will face after high school graduation, is dynamic. It's interactive, ever-changing and responsive. Like the boy, our students push a button in these worlds and receive immediate feedback, or an instant response.
We offer plenty of hands-on experiences ... but are we interacting with our learners? Are schools meeting learners where they are, and preparing them for where they will go next?
In the book Inevitable Too! (Chuck Schwahn and Beatrice McGarvey), the authors suggest our younger generations (digital natives or DN) expect interaction. They write:
- "DN expect interaction; they no longer accept one-way broadcasts. They are not only consumers of information; they are also creators of information."
- "DN learned to manipulate technology early, and have never been afraid of it."
When my children were young, we brought them to a museum that allowed, even encouraged, them to touch everything. You see, back then, this was a destination, a place to visit. Today's children and their parents do not need to visit a museum or destination to have a hands-on experience with learning. Just watch a young child today when her parent hands her a device. She immediately consumes it, touches it and expects something to happen from this interaction.
Our children expect to be hands-on learners in and out of their classrooms. They do not just like interaction they expect it, as Schwahn and McGarvey point out in their book.
How can our schools, then, embrace this coming tide and become more interactive, more dynamic and more responsive to our learners, while still maintaining the public good and educating the masses?