Parent Newsletter – Raising Modern Learners

Will RichardsonBy Will Richardson

For the full blog post, click here.

This week, we start with a slew of reminders that in this connected world of people and information, how we learn is just — as if not moreimportant than what we learn.

We think re-framing learning is job No. 1 for parents to truly understand the ways in which we need schools and policies to shift.

No question, schools are caught in a difficult place between the traditional expectations of policy makers, parents, and the realities of decidedly-changed world. Most of us adults didn’t get to be “learning agile” in school where the focus was on having the “right answer.” Still is.

Frighteningly, few of the questions my kids are asked on tests involve any of the uncertainty or nuance of the type that would help them grapple with the complexities of the real world today. Questions that require them to be able to learn their way to success, not rely on the increasingly outdated or irrelevant knowledge that most school assessments cover.

Bottom line: an uncertain world demands a certain type of education, one that is rooted in developing our kids as powerful learners, not masters of content or skills that are continually changing. As parents, we need to speak up and demand a very different education for our kids from the one we ourselves received.

I know that’s uncomfortable. I know it feels risky. But the bigger risk right now is that our kids get thrown into young adulthood without the ability to ask those big questions, deal with constant change, and learn on demand.

Some starting points for parents might be to ask your school board to articulate how their vision for teaching and learning has changed in light of these new realities. Or, start parent meet-ups to discuss some of the topics in this newsletter on an ongoing basis. Or, ask teachers for some feedback or assessment on how your children are developing as learners. Or whatever else starts a larger conversation around change.

Additional highlights in this newsletter:

  • “In a networked world, does every child need to be a brand?” How are we creating space, showing illustrative examples, and giving our children feedback on developing their own reputation?
  • “Who wants to be an entrepreneur?” According to a recent Gallup Poll 43% of US 5th-12th graders do. What type of opportunities should our children have to pursue their entrepreneurial spirit both in and out of school?
  • “What keeps publishers up at night?” More than 25% of the ebooks purchased are self-published. How does that change the notion of what is publishable? How often do kids share their work with a broader audience? If it is affordable to self-publish should we encourage more of our children to take that route?
  • “Reality Check: The Internet Never Takes a Rest.” Link to an Edutopia article that discusses how the social pressure and challenges for our children because of their capacity to spread rumors, take pictures and bully online never take a holiday. How are we handling these conversations and challenges without cutting off the lines of communication with our children?


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