Do the top guys know where the kids are?
March 13th, 2009

Today in the Huffington Post, the President of the National Education Association writes about “What Slumdog Teaches Us About Education.” Dennis Van Roekel includes this observation in his article:

One of the greatest challenges we face as educators is making the curriculum exciting and relevant to students. To do this, we must understand how they live and tap into their own experiences. Many students from poor backgrounds like Jamal fare poorly on standardized tests, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent. We must find the intelligence in each child, and engage him or her in a way that promotes creative thinking.

Every student must learn math and reading, science and history. But that’s not enough. Today’s students need to develop skills that enable them to sift through massive amounts of available information and recognize what might be useful in solving problems we cannot predict, and perform jobs that have not yet been invented.

Although the child actors who play Slumdog hero Jamal Malik and friends in India of a decade ago correctly do not use cellphones, the devices become important in the story when the kids are teens. For youth in India, America, and across the world, including the digital tools youngsters have is a way to make the curriculum exciting and relevant . . . and tap into their own experiences.

Mr. Van Roekel is not alone at the top of education policy making in his omission of the smart mobbing that the young generation has deeply adopted. President Obama in his recent speech on education, and in his WhiteHouse.gov website makes no mention of texting, social networking, computer learning, or any other uniquely 21st century learning potentials. Do the top guys know where the kids are?


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