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The Future is Now

December 19, 2009

It’s been hard finding the time to keep up on my reading, but I have been able to read some more of Catching Up or Leading the Way by Yong Zhao. I recently read the chapter on technology where he made several interesting observations about the past and future.

“Businesses, governments, academics and the media have all been working hard to interpret the implications and respond to the challenges of this new world.  But the education sector has not.  To be fair, many schools have actually embraced new technologies as new tools to help conduct their business more effectively, without recognizing the transformation technology has brought about.  This is similar to the farmer in the early days of the Industrial Revolution who bought a steam engine to help improve his farming but failed to notice that a new society was emerging that would alter his and his children’s life in an irreversible manner.”

I used to think that my Grandfather, who was born in 1906, farmed his whole life and passed away in 1986, had seen more technological advancements that I would ever see in my life time.  He first worked with horses, then steam engines, then tractors, and on and on.  Not long before he passed he had been reading about GPS systems being used to improve farming. I now know that the advancements he saw will be minor compared to my own, if I can live 80 years.

Not only do we need to teach technology skills, but also the ability to learn online.  Many of our students will end up earning their living in the virtual world.  Dr. Zhao also states,

“Our schools have been teaching skills and knowledge needed for an industrial economy, preparing our children to work only in the physical world.  The challenge our schools must face is to begin teaching the skills and knowledge needed for virtual economy.”

It’s time for Saline Area Schools to make it a priority for our students to communicate, think and learn in this new world.

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