Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is the illiterate growing?

Prediction: the more the educational institution in America focuses on standardized test scores, the more America's illiterate will increase in today's 21st century way of doing things. Futurist, Alvin Tofler, has been credited with the following quote... "The illiterate of the 21st century are not those who cannot read and write, but rather those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Wow! Do we really see the impact of this quote? If this quote is accurate, then we MUST change the way we educate our young people in America. I, for one, believe the aforementioned statement is more than accurate given we are in the midst, and have been enthralled for about 10 years now, of a revolution the world has never experienced before with regard to technology, learning, information and its abundance, education and its increasing irrelevance to students in the United States, and the overwhelming and sweeping changes that have come with how we commmunicate with one another through social networking and social media. We must wake up! It is no longer about test scores, how well one can read, or how well one can even write. Now, do not get me wrong. I do believe one must be able to be a communicator. I also believe one must be a voracious learner. But, communicating is no longer limited to writing. Learning is no longer limited to how well one can read and comprehend a selected passage. I believe our students who display creativity (see Daniel Pink @danpink), motivation (see Philip Schlechty), ingenuity in working with others (see Michael Wesch, @mwesch), an incredible focus and passion for their work (see  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and his "Flow Theory of Psychology"), and pursue personal growth through learning (see Carol Dweck's "Growth Mindset") are the ones who will reap the benefits of prosperity in the 21st century. Moreover, I believe the educators who also exhibit these traits of learning, unlearning, and relearning are the educators who are relevant to the needs of students. If you are an educator and you find it hard to implement this change in focus, I implore you to start with one simple step: rethink your values. Do you value test scores or do you value authentic and relevant growth in your students? If you value authentic and relevant growth in students, then no longer pay any attention to test scores which students do not value, but instead look at ways to encourage students to learn, unlearn and relearn through the vast amount of resources this information-age has offered you.

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