In a few short years every student in our schools will be from the 21st century, and no teacher will be. The entire student body and the entire teacher force will be from different centuries.
Since reading this quote on my Twitter feed recently I have taken pause to consider its implications. You see, as a sixth grade teacher , all of my current students were born after the year 2000 and this has been my reality for the past three years. Moving forward it will continue to be the case until I eventually retire within the next fifteen years. As I continue to digest the implications of this reality, I am sure that it is not as dire as the quote suggests.
Here are some additional realities:
My colleagues and I are products of the 20th century educational system. Our passion and commitment as professionals has helped to produce many passionate educators who lead our classrooms today.
The passion that we have for teaching and for our students today was and continues to be fueled by the influences of many outstanding 20th century educators.
The great teachers have always understood the value of engagement and empowerment, these concepts are not unique to the eras in which students learn or teachers teach.
The 20th century teacher was also the 20th century learner and as time marched forward, the 20th century teacher became the 21st century teacher and learner.
As educators and as humans, we must continue to learn and adapt, if we are to survive in our careers or in life.
In an effort to gain an additional perspective I wrote the quote on the board and sought the opinions of my students regarding its implications. Their responses were varied.
Some felt that it made no difference at all because a 20th century background could provide additional perspectives for the 21 century student in terms of approaches and strategies.
Some believed that it was "no big deal" as long as the educator used 21st century methods and technology to meet their students "where they were".
A few did in fact believe that teachers should be replaced if they were not willing to teach 21st century students with a 21st century mindset. As always their honest feedback provided valuable insight as I continued to work through the implications of this issue.
This is what I believe moving forward regarding the implications of 20th century teachers teaching, 21st century learners.
The quality of education is the key to the growth of any individual or the advancement of any society.
The manner in which we educate our children has always and will always evolve as a result of a multitude of political, technological, cultural and economic influences.
We must continue to understand how our children learn and prepare ourselves to meet them where they are. This is imperative to their success.
As long as we are willing to evolve and adapt, in order to meet the needs of each individual learner, then ultimately it makes no difference when the educator was born or educated.
The educator that continues to develop their instructional practices with their students front and center, will thrive in any century and so will their students.