Collins and Halverson (2009) wrote, "School fosters just-in-case learning while technology fosters just-in-time learning."
They argue that there is a growing dissociation between schooling and learning, because many students find what they learn in school to be irrelevant, yet they throw themselves into learning on the Internet using tools like social networking and gaming while we, the educational experts, shake our heads. While we are arguing whether the Common Core is the best set of standards upon which to build a curriculum, our young people are out there building their own curricula, one learner at a time. We may fail them, not because they lack the desire to learn, but because we can't figure out how to make truly critical skills and knowledge seem as relevant as MineCraft.
Maybe for now, while we try to work out how to really transform our school systems, we need to simply give kids time at school to explore, rather than expecting them to do it all at home after their homework is done. I am inspired by the courage of teachers who are willing to give up control and allow concepts such as Genius Hour into the sacred timetable. Genius Hour is school time when students get to develop their own inquiry-based investigations and learn what they want to. It has begun to take hold in 6th grade at Seoul Foreign School, where I work. I walked through a classroom yesterday and observed students using Makey Makey boards to create novel computer interfaces, sculpting a giant virtual Neptune with a trident and a floating water globe in MineCraft, and developing a survey on pre-teen relationships. Those were just the three pairs of students I happened to talk to first.
It is an exciting time to be in education, but also a little scary to think about the technological power that now rests in the hands of children. Educators do have a role to play as the schooling and learning paradigms shift. I think a big part of it will be to provide some ethical guidance about the use of technology, if we can just figure that out for ourselves...