NetFamilyNews.org has posed this excellet summary of my recent ISTE keynote segment:
"Prensky’s thoughts for 21st-century teachers
Marc Prensky, who coined the term “digital natives” and a few years ago moved on to write about digital wisdom, called on educators to show the courage to do what “they know is right” and wisely embrace the technology that will increasingly help all of us, including students, solve the world’s complex problems. This was in his 10-min. portion of a collective keynote at this summer’s International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Diego. Prensky said that digital wisdom combines the things brains do better with the things machines do better. On the brain side of the equation, where classrooms are concerned, he pointed to empathy as the No. 1 skill teachers bring to the mix, then more four things he thinks they – and I think parents too – can do to help students find their passions (which, he suggested, creates motivation, learning, eventually jobs, and happiness):
1.Listen. You can’t help anyone find their passion if you don’t listen to them, he said. Otherwise, they become what kids call “cellophane kids” – teachers looking through them at curriculum, standardized test scores, etc., their students becoming invisible.
2.Respect. “Today we have mutual disrespect,” Prensky said. “In this century, we need a balance of old and new, top-down and bottom-up, technology and pedagogy. Half the world is under 25 and all the educational decisions come from the top-down. I think the next century is about changing that.” Hear, hear!
3.Over-expect from our students. Their capabilities are far greater than they’ve ever been and what’s making them better is connecting their brains to technology wisely.
4.Dare to do what you know is right. “Teachers know what their students need but somehow someone has convinced them that their job is just to cover the curriculum. The need is “to bring our kids into the future equipped with the skills that will allow them to function and thrive in the 21st century. That’s scary. We all feel the fear, but do it anyway. That’s the definition of ‘courage’.”
Prensky’s new book Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom was released this week. Kirkus Reviews called it “an intriguing, astute counterbalance to the scaremongering that dominates many other books on digital life.”
I received this powerful and humbling email last week from a teacher, with the titile "A Note from the Audience." She has kindly given me permission to post it:
My name is Emily, I am a 27 year old teacher just finishing my masters degree in Technology for Education and Training (TET) at the University of South Dakota. Through this degree I have been introduced to your work. I took two classes that had your books, Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning, and From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom as the required course materials. The first thing I read of yours was your essay "Backup Education?" and I must admit that at first I found your ideas a little unsettling. Being raised in South Dakota I had a very traditional education, I was taught the very things you were saying didn't need to be taught anymore. Then after a year of classes and teaching my own 5th grade class of Digital Natives my opinion completely changed. I wasted 2-3 weeks teaching my fifth graders long division! I mean, I literally wasted it. Why couldn't I have just given them a calculator? At the time I thought that it was good for them to "practice" doing it the long way. I realize now that was NOT very 21st Century of me. I will be teaching 5th grade math and 5th, 6th, and 7th grade science this upcoming school year and I can promise you I will not waste that much time on long division again. Other than my 5th graders and the classes I took as a part of my masters program, my 6 year old son really opened my eyes to the truth in your writings. My son is very bright, but he claims he hates school and he fights me at home when I try to get him to read or practice his writing. But he LOVES games! Some days he would come home from school and ask to go online and have me find a website for him that they used at school. These games got him to practice the skills I wanted him to but in a way that engaged him. Recently he introduced me to the game Plants vs. Zombies, which is ridiculously addictive I must say. As I was reading From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom these past three weeks and doing my homework from home my son has been engrossed on Plants vs. Zombies, and I started to think of the skills he was getting from this game. He has to strategize and use number and money sense and more importantly read while playing! He has read a total of 3 books all summer and that was because he was forced to by me! As I am doing my homework for class I hear my son sounding out the words while playing this game and start to truly appreciate and understand the powers of games in education. I began to hope that his teachers in the following years will give embrace 21st Century Learning principles and empower him pave his own path to understanding and knowledge. I think that he could do great things if given the opportunity. This makes me realize that every child in my upcoming class this year is someone else's baby and those parents have hopes and dreams for their children just as I do. I have decided to try my very hardest to make my classroom a 21st Century classroom and partner with my students in their education. I have a passion for teaching in particular math and science, and hope I can use my passion to uncover my student's passions and interests. I want to thank you for writing your books and giving me the inspiration to be a better teacher.
While taking my comprehensive final exam for my degree I thought of the Chinese proverb, Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, and I realized how well this proverb fit for education today. I am going to rewrite it and display it in my classroom as this: Give a child an answer and they learn for a day. Teach a child to find their own answers and they learn for a lifetime.
Thank you Emily. May you be an inspiration to others!