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What The Internet Generation Needs From Their EducationIn evaluating the success of an educational program, our first inclination is to use our past experiences as a basis. Even better is to assess how successful our children are as a measuring tool. It is every parents dream that their children will grow to be successful adults, and we hope their school education will help with the preparation. For this to work, schools must operate in the world of the 21st Century.
The Internet Generation
Children in school today are part of the Internet Generation, or N-geners for short. What we need to be asking ourselves is if the schools of today are preparing this young Internet generation well enough to be successful in their future of tomorrow? Our society is no longer reliant on farming and industrial pursuits to be successful? What will be the defining aspects of the lives of the Internet Generation? What tools will they need to thrive in their world? It seems as though everyone has their own opinion, let us explore what the owners and managers in corporate America will be looking for from this generation.
In the article Rigor Redefined (2008), Tony Wagner interviewed many corporate CEOs to find out what they are looking for in todays workforce. Wagner was surprised at some of the answers he discovered to his questions. For example, the President of BOC Edwards indicated that what he was looking for first and foremost was someone to ask good questions. He stated that while they could always teach the technical stuff, it is very difficult to teach someone how to think and to ask good questions.
A great number of these high level managers shared a common desire to find employees able to cooperate as a team to talk over and solve the immediate problems their company face today. Educators need to understand these real world needs and prepare our students by providing the tools to help them contribute quickly in the real world. Provide real case studies and problems to solve and forget about standard worksheets that dont help the students think for themselves. If they have the opportunity to work in groups and present their findings in a real world way, they will be better prepared for the work force.
It is critical that schools today review their current curriculums and modify them to meet the needs our children will have in the future. So often packaged curriculum materials are becoming the entire lesson plan, rather than a supplement for the teacher. And I am concerned that teachers have no need to consider the real world ramifications of a lesson because the entire plan is provided in Teachers Guides. It is also troubling that school districts are requiring teachers to report their lessons on weekly planning and pacing guides, making it difficult for a teacher to apply the lessons to the real world.
A favorable rapport between student and teacher is critical to the learning process. A student must feel that their teacher understands where they are coming from and how they will learn the best. Teachers can meet this goal best when they are able to provide relevant lesson plans that their students can relate to.
Teachers today are educating the Internet Generation. As such, it is critical to integrate technology into the learning process as often as possible. Technology come naturally to our students, and it is our job to show them the practical and real world ways technology can be used. Our future holds classes and lesson plans using all forms of technology, including smart boards, PowerPoint presentations, cell phones and classroom response systems. These advanced teaching techniques are critical to the success of the Internet Generation and it is the educators job to embrace the opportunity to connect with the children.
To avoid the dry and uninteresting approaches found in packaged programs and planning and pacing guides, integrate reading and writing into rich content. Use social studies and science to promote and practice what was learned in reading and writing class.
The trend we are seeing toward cutting social studies and science to focus more on reading, writing and math in our school districts is disturbing. A simple solution is to integrate those subjects into the basic core skills in order to provide a rich and interesting curriculum to our students. A lack or social studies and science instruction will result in students unable to make connections and apply their knowledge to other subject areas, a critical component to lifelong success.
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CESJ is a a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)