iPads and the Path Ahead

October brought a gorgeous first week of weather, the launch of the TPS faculty iPad pilot program and the untimely death of Steve Jobs. As I think about Tuxedo Park School and imagine all the possibilities that technology can bring into our educational world, I also pause to think about exactly what kind of innovation is necessary to create the tools of the future. What do we need to help our children unlock their potential and encourage them to innovate in ways unimaginable to us right now?

Tributes to Steve Jobs abound in the blogosphere, but there was one particular posting that caught my attention, the 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. Watching this video reminded me of three of my favorite mantras: “We must prepare the child for the path and NOT the path for the child.” It was said by Rob Evans, a frequent speaker to Independent School administrators, boards and parents and he uses it to encourages parents and teachers to build that resilience muscle in our children, to teach them how to rebound after a setback or disappointment. As Tom Sturges wrote (and as I shared with the middle school parents) “Grow the Tree you Got,” encouraging the parents of teens and pre-teens to stop wishing for a child with a different skill set or talent base and appreciate and nurture the seed in the children we have right now. Finally, as I think about the weighty responsibility born by those of us who parent and teach in this digital age, I am yet again reminded of Daniel Pink, who tells us “We must educate our children for their future—not our past.”

So even as we continue to foster the rich traditions of Tuxedo Park School, we modernize them, where we can, and only when that modernization enhances and extends the experience. As Head of School, I have the joy of reading Harold and the Purple Crayon to the kindergarteners at our weekly reading date, but I can also share the book’s app on my iPad, allowing the children to interact and manipulate the same story in new ways.

And so, as the gold team earned 35 points at last week’s Math Bowl championship, one in a long tradition of wonderful academic bowls, iPads were used for the first time in order to display the math problems to the contestants. And as the jazz band prepares for its first performance, students recorded themselves playing on video and audio using Mr. Williams’ iPad. As we teachers learn how to extend our learning through technology, we wonder: which of our students will take these tools on his or her circuitous path, perhaps some of them emerging as the next Mr. Jobs, themselves eventually creating and enhancing educational opportunities for future generations? It is with a hopeful sense of wonder that I look forward to this journey, and to finding out where innovation will strike next.

About Kathleen McNamara Head's Up!

an educator in Independent Schools for over 28 years
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