For people like me who are not close to the world of education, it is hard to appreciate just how monumental a shift is taking place in pedagogy. The way kids learn in school has been and will be changing drastically in the coming years. The new approach, I have discovered, is referred to as “21st Century Learning.” This term is technical jargon, referring to a specific and concise idea. It is not a generic phrase, even though at first reading it might appear to be.
The concept is relevant to independent filmmakers interested in creating educational outreach materials (especially those of us born before the year 2000) because the new paradigm is taking such a radical departure from our own school experiences. The old-fashioned “study guide” of the 90’s, even the very good ones, are becoming increasingly irrelevant. I am not an education expert by any means; I am, however, an expert at feeling completely gobsmacked by some of the new strategies. My heart goes out to veteran teachers who after decades of teaching in one way are now confronted with the challenge of readjusting to another. Understandably, many find the new tools and techniques controversial, even threatening. At the same time the new directions seem fun and exciting. So much so that even a lay person like myself can appreciate the “buzz” and potential.
I thought I should include a list of some of the books that have been helping me wrap my 50-something brain around these New School methods as part of “Indies Go to School.” First is a great (and short and snappy!) book called Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know about Schools and Rediscover Education, by Clark Aldrich (2011, Greenleaf Book Group Press). It is an iconoclastic list designed to purge our minds of Old School cobwebs. Each premise is numbered and addressed directly with no more than three pages of text. An example from p. 23:
8. What a person learns in a classroom is how to be a person in a classroom. The teacher might be talking about history or math, but what the students in a traditional classroom are learning is how to be students in a classroom. And they are learning it very well. They are learning how to take notes. They are learning how to surreptitiously communicate with peers. They are learning how to ask questions to endear themselves to authority figures…Furthermore, we have built a reward structure to praise those students who can sit in classrooms better than anyone else. We let them run our planet.