I hope this work will lead you to question some of your most cherished and fundamental beliefs about education. I hope it will give you a new optimism that education can and certainly will change in profound ways to bring creativity and choice to lifelong learning for every one of our kids. And I hope it will provide you with examples you can build both your new vision and the future of schooling on.
It will, I hope, make the old foundation stones of schooling, reading, writing, and calculating, “fade away into mere shadows,” for they are barriers blocking all too many of our kids from learning the kinds of advanced skills they will need. The old skills limited communication, encouraged an emphasis on mechanical paper processes, and make collaboration difficult. We can now build schooling on a new base, a foundation “sprung from the soil of…” 21st century jobs, designed and constructed for the digital age, using the digital tools our kids must master.
It will, I hope, make the distinction between teaching and learning, instruction and curriculum, fade away as well. Thus far, digital technology has been, in the main, used to change methods of instruction. When applied to curriculum, it has not questioned the relevance of the traditional content; instead it has replicated the paper lessons. Until we change what we learn, we cannot use technology to change how we learn, for “only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”
It will, I hope, encourage you to believe in the opportunities for the tools of the digital age to reinvent schools and change education. We have become cynical about education, lowering expectations, harshly judging our schools, our teachers, and even our kids. We have tragically come to even question a fundamental tenet of our nation that education can and will give our kids a better life. The technology of the digital age has the capability to change that; the capability to enable every student who wants to, to get a rich and rewarding college education at a price that is affordable. We can meet our great educational challenge to: double our college graduation rates at half the cost well within a generation by empowering schools, teachers, and students with digital age technology and the freedom to use it openly. We can decide that schooling should be about the skills our kids will need to thrive and not about the content they need to remember, about learning and not instruction, about making students teachers and teachers students, about the future and not the past.