In past decades many systems of education have adopted and monitored Standards, Outcomes and Literacies in an attempt to raise the minimum performance of schools and teachers. Currently many voices are being raised around the world calling for more than minimal educational achievements. In Australia, the government has committed to its Melbourne Declaration, which has as one of its main goals: “supporting all young Australians to become successful learners,” which is partly elaborated upon with the following.
- develop their capacity to learn and play an active role in their own learning
- are able to think deeply and logically, and obtain and evaluate evidence in a disciplined way as the result of studying fundamental disciplines
- are creative, innovative and resourceful, and are able to solve problems in ways that draw upon a range of learning areas and disciplines
- are able to plan activities independently, collaborate, work in teams and communicate ideas
- are motivated to reach their full potential.
As part of the initiative, the federal government is in the initial phases of launching a single, nation-wide Australian Curriculum that is meant to advance this vision of successful learners.
Another example comes from Denmark, where this year saw the pilot of Year 12 exams where students had completely open access to the Internet.
The Danish government says if the internet is so much a part of daily life, it should be included in the classroom and in examinations.
Sanne Yde Schmidt, who heads the project at Greve, says: “If we’re going to be a modern school and teach them things that are relevant for them in modern life, we have to teach them how to use the internet.”
The pilot was reported in a BBC article verifying that this has taken place. What might be even more surprising to some is that these final exams have been completed on computers since 2000 (the beginning of the 21st Century).
For many in education, such authentic learning presents a problem. Much of the curriculum teachers work from focuses on… “teaching.” And yet all the skills and cognitive savvy, the “successful learning,” which is our goal has almost nothing to do with direct instruction or acquisition of information. So what kinds of pedagogies support the goals of the Australian and other countries who want their students to take their place as active and innovative citizens of a global world?
In fact, the above laudable attributes of the “successful learner” are more likely to be achieved through creating a culture that nurtures a disposition toward inquiry, Habits of Mind, intrinsic motivation and experiences of Flow. I have embedded these in the Edge-ucators Way (Look to Learn, ClassPortals and WebQuests).
What new strategies and approaches will you use to help student develop into “successful learners?”
If we take on board the changes that happen when students learn with 1:1 computers — and we hope to achieve the lofty goals for successful learners — the basic tasks of the teacher must change. “Deep and logical thinking” require authentic challenges. The ability to “plan activities independently, collaborate, work in teams” requires active learning. The “capacity to learn and play an active role in their own learning” requires student ownership for their learning.
You are welcome to ignore, use or modify the formats I have suggested in the Edge-ucators Way that embody the pedagogies below. It would be great if you came up with your own local strategies and approaches. May I suggest, however, that to be affective you should take into consideration the embedded pedagogies or find others that have a proved research record in related areas.