Define “21st Century Teachers, Students & Classrooms”

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Define "21st Century Teachers, Students & Classrooms"
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I always argue that we are 14 years into the 21st century so why do we still use that term when describing teachers, students, technology and tools. A great argument as far as I am concerned. Then someone brought to my attention that every grade 8 in our building was born in 2000 or 2001. You could hear the brain matter shift, turn, implode and explode in my head. I had never thought of it like that.

My mind was blown.




I don’t much care for the term “21st century” anything when it comes to education. It’s a buzzword – and close to 15 years old. I have said that before and am saying it again now. I have only taught in the 21st century – I went to university in the 21st century! And I have been teaching for almost 9 years now!!

A matter of perspective. Forget that it is almost 2015, and think about this next paragraph.

Every student in my school is a 21st century student – or just student, for short. Think about that. They only know “21st century” anything – school, the movies, games, apps, friendships, trends etc. Its all “21st century”.

Let me also point out that a century is 100 years. What are we really preparing for? Maybe we should call it “decade teaching” or “decade learning” as my students will hit college or university in this decade. Work too, for many.

I don’t mean to sound negative, but I am curious as to why we throw out the terms. Almost like a justification that the “current practices” we do are right, because they are “modern”. The reality is we love buzzwords. My good buddy Bill made me think of this today – thanks @mrbillforrester. Genious hour, growth mindset, inquiry – all buzzy. But we need the labels – and so do students. It’s comforting, and that’s OK.

I just question the “21st century” – its been too long, and we have 85 years to go in this century. If you think “maker space” or “coding” is 21st century – then I hope you watch the video below from 1972. Thanks to someone I have in high regard – Peter Skillen – for making me think at #bit14.




Seymour Aubrey Papert (born February 29, 1928) is an MIT mathematician, computer scientist, and educator. He is one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, as well as an inventor of the Logo programming language.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour_Papert

What do you think? Is “21st century” a blanket for something more? Can we rename it? Do we need the label?

Image from: http://groovylibrarian.edublogs.org/files/2011/01/wordlezimmer-1lulujt.jpg
wordlezimmer-1lulujt

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20 Responses for this post

  1. BlackBerryDad71
    BlackBerryDad71
    | |

    I think you are on to something.

    I would add the description of your school as a “BYOD School”. BYOD can be so overused. I carry my mobile device (BlackBerry) everywhere I go. Is my life a BYOD life?

    “The Creek”, being so progressive, in allowing, dare I say encouraging students to bring devices, regardless of platform, is the new norm. Being good stewards of technology is a lesson that cannot wait.

    My 2.5 cents.

    Reply
  2. Aviva
    Aviva
    | |

    I might ask, why do we need the labels? Instead of focusing on the words, I’d so love to focus on the practices. Bill, Kristi (my previous VP), and I entered into a discussion on Twitter about “buzz words,” and I think it might be neat to look beyond the words.

    Aviva

    Reply
  3. iteachell
    iteachell
    | |

    21st Century. I agree. Scrap it. Save yourself the extra breath and leave it at ‘students’ or ‘learning’, it’s all our students know. Although, I guess some may look at it as a way to show that notable change has happened-that we are moving forward from the previous century learning. So…when we keep moving forward over the next 85 years with teaching, learning, technology and tools, and our current practices evolve, at what point does it get recognized with a new title or buzz word? 21 and a half century learning?

    Reply
  4. Matt
    Matt
    | |

    When I first heard the term “genius hour” something I side me said this is it. This is how I like to teach and other people feel the same way. The term pointed to a shadowy, vague idea that hit a chord with me. As the term has become more codified in its meaning it has lost some of its mystery and I almost cringe to use it now because it doesn’t have the same appropriately vague meaning to me anymore.
    The term 21century learner has never had the same resonance with me. We don’t learn any differently than we ever have. This self aware matter tries to make sense of the rest of the matter around us.

    Reply
  5. Karen
    Karen
    | |

    Great post Brian. You always cause me to have arguments in my own mind. Given some of my own titles or mis-titles…family studies teacher or home ec teacher, librarian, teacher-librarian, learning commons something or other, ‘dragon lady’…I will take them all without much fuss. I don’t complain much, but just try to go on learning. And for that matter, it is about the learning…student learning, teacher learning, life-long learning. But, as many of us are resistant to change and buzz words, these are the very means that encapsulate the pedagogy that we always learn more from and strive to get better at. So, yeah, 21st century buzz is a little antiquated, but much our education SYSTEM is still working on 19th century school house ideas. Best to keep the conversation going. Thanks for doing so Brian.

    Reply
  6. Kyle Pearce
    Kyle Pearce
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    21st Century Students is definitely a buzz word, but Is only tossed around because teaching hasn’t changed much in over a century. We have tons of technology, potential and opportunity to do great things with education as a whole – yet we don’t.

    Until learning in school changes significantly enough where one could hear a description of a lesson and decipher which century it was from, we must use the term “21st Century” to make sure we don’t keep the status quo until the 22nd Century.

    Reply
  7. iteachell
    iteachell
    | |

    I like it Kyle! Almost like a reminder….to push ourselves as a whole to do/ try great things, make a difference with, provide opportunities using, the technology and tools available to us today….

    Reply

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