Last week I had the privilege of attending the inaugural “Schools For Tomorrow” conference sponsored by the New York Times and I’ve returned with many ideas, some of them contradictory to each other!
You’ll notice, as I did, that the conference title uses the word “for,” and not “of.” This seems an important distinction, because while “technology of the future” was an important part of the day’s discussion, implementing change now, in “schools of today,” was very much at the heart of the conversation.
The conference itself served as a fascinating test-drive through the new landscape that technology has already created in teaching moments of all kinds; I’ve attended many lectures over the years, but none quite like this. My experience came in four layers: listening to the speakers, Googling germane topics in real time, taking notes on my iPad and reading the live Twitter feed from audience members—many of whom vehemently disagreed with the speaker. So there I was, serving as a test case “student” in the new classroom being envisioned by the assembled thinkers from the worlds of teaching, technology, government, philanthropy, business and media, all of whom are preparing us for how to harness new technology to accomplish a classic goal: preparing students for the world that awaits them when they venture out into the world.
In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink reminds us that we are preparing students for their future–not our pasts. With this in mind it becomes a little easier to foster the spirit of innovation as we chart our course as educators, reminded that new tools and new challenges are what we bring our students every day. Requiring it of ourselves only seems fair. There is a rich arsenal of tools available at nytschoolsfortomorrow.com and I encourage the student in each of us to link to the site in search of our own new role in the new education landscape.