Silvia Tolisano: Take Another Look Around

Guest Post By: Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Will Richardson said: “If you are not feeling a little bit uncomfortable about being a teacher or being in education right now, then you are not paying attention.”

takeanotherlook-400x293Working in schools and in education tends to put us in a “bubble” sometimes. We have our own micro-organisms of the way things work. The way our school world works has not changed as fast as the world around us. We still hold on to models that are outdated outside the world of education.

I am asking every teacher to TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AROUND.

The sense of urgency is real and PERSONAL to me (as it should be to most of you!).

You will mostly see my own granddaughter as the model in the presentation slides below! She is just a little over a year old and has all of her “formal” schooling ahead of her. She will go through pre-school, elementary, middle and high school and hopefully, possibly, maybe to (a traditional) university (???). She will have good teachers and not so good teachers along the way. Teachers who will care about her and her learning and teachers who will only care about test scores.

  • Will they prepare her for the year 2030 and the way the world beyond will look like?
  • Will she be learning from textbooks only?
  • Will her learning inside the physical classroom be unrecognizably different from her learning outside of school?
  • Will her teachers allow her to use devices/tools to demonstrate evidence of learning instead of traditional methods of assessment?

take-another-look-around-48-638It is PERSONAL … when I look at my own three children. To the right is a picture of my youngest daughter on her first day of school (with a traditional German school cone in her arms) and then again on her LAST day of high school. Notice the big, heavy textbook in her arms on the last day. Time past in a blink of an eye.

She went to a so called all “A” schools (Schools in our State are classified with a grade according to the results of the standardized tests). Her classes sported Smartboards in the rooms and her teachers were given iPads to use for their teaching. It did not change how she was prepared for life outside of school.

It did not change how she was taught in order to pass tests, instead of learning how to learn in HER world. There was no collaboration beyond working with her classmates. There was never an authentic task beyond “getting the grade”. There was no strategic intent to embed skills to expose, support and strength literacies beyond traditional reading and writing (One of the teachers tried “blogging” with her English class once, but abandoned it quickly, since it was too much work to monitor all the students’ writing).

If you have children in school…blink once and they will too graduate in no time. There is no time for baby steps in order to think about trying this or that. There is an urgency to take a good hard look around and take action.

Take Another Look Around – see Silvia’s slideshow on Learning to Learn in a Changing World

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano is known in the international edublogger-and Twittersphere under the name of “Langwitches”. Langwitches shares examples from classrooms around the world, helping educators break down the steps of updating the way that lessons are traditionally taught, making them more in line with the 21st century. Her passions include globally connected learning, information visualizations, technology integration, 21st Century skills and literacies, as well as digital storytelling. You can connect with Silvia at


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