Marc Prensky was the man who coined the phrase ‘ digital natives’ to describe young people growing up in a time when technology is a ubiquitous and natural part of their lives. He is also a future oriented thinker who writes and speaks passionately about the education young people need to be effective in the Twenty First Century.
This is a superb article written by Prensky recently for Education Week. In it he highlights how those who treat learning as the end product of school education are pointing towards the wrong end goal. To him ‘becoming’ must be the end purpose of school education;
I recall a few years ago in a graduation speech to senior students setting out the goals that they should aspire to be the best ‘them’ that they can be. The best person, friend, employer, employee, spouse, sibling, child, friend, citizen etc.
Within school we have the ability to help children to develop the reflective skills and the understanding of the importance of these over simple things like how many maths sums one can answer correctly or how many social studies facts one can remember and reproduce in an exam.
One key element is recognising and focusing more on progress, effort and movement forward as justifications for recognition and praise more than end outcomes. For example, i am reminded of a piece I read about some German research based on a longitudinal study of young athletes and sports persons. They were tracked from childhood. The ones who, in the longer term went on to achieve at the highest levels in their chosen sports were not the ones identified as having the highest levels of latent talent at a young age. Ultimately, those with the high latent talent too often squandered it, or at least failed to apply themselves enough to develop what they had. Those who were the long term winners were the ones who took their initial abilities and worked, strived and applied themselves to honing their talents and building their skills.
In some of my future articles here in the blog i will be focusing on the directions i believe we need to take in schools to shift the focus to ‘becoming’ as the overriding objective.