Ok, I know the title of this blog post is, like, blasphemy on this site. However, I have to get this off my chest. I have been reading a lot lately, on my Google Reader feeds, and throughout the educational community, about the push towards 21st Century Learning. The NECC blog is filled with examples, such as this post by Wesley Fryer and this link to one of many similar youtube videos.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I completely agree that we need to engage our students in a way that we have not ever done before, and are still not doing, for the most part. I agree that education has to be innovative. I agree that we need to produce students who don’t just memorize facts, but can think and speak for themselves. And don’t even get me started on No Child Left
But, we can’t differentiate everything. We can’t sacrifice basic standards. We can’t continue to lower our educational expectations, because what we expect from our students, we will get.
I recently assigned a PowerPoint project to my computer lab classes. Each grade had a different topic, and they were to research their topic and compile their information into a presentation that would be shared with the class. Let me tell you, I have taught research strategies to my students many times, but they often struggle with finding even the most basic facts. They want the information to come to them. They avoid reading web pages like the plague! If the information doesn’t jump off the website and bite them, then “I can’t find anything.” Students are becoming too used to the instant gratification of “info-tainment” and games. They are forgetting how to work for their learning. And we can’t allow this to happen. After the presentations were complete, I encouraged them to edit, proofread, and double check their work. I feel bad saying this, but when I saw the finished presentations, I was appalled at the spelling and grammar errors. I don’t expect perfection, but some of them were barely readable! What does that say about our standards? In my opinion, they are slipping. And we can’t allow this to happen. I’m so upset while writing this, I think I may dig up those presentations and make the students find and fix all their errors. I can’t let them get away with mediocrity. I want them to be the best that they can be!
What our students need is not more tests. We need to have more time for basic, solid skills on which to build a foundation. Yes, I want our students to solve problems and think creatively, but they need to know how to read, write, and add first!