What is the future of education?
As society progresses, so must education in order to properly prepare students for a changing world. Here is how BSM will go down the path towards the future of education.
February 24, 2017
In 1996, IBM’s computer program Deep Blue won a chess game against world champion chess player Garry Kasparov. While Deep Blue would go on to lose the match, the implication of this win was clear: technology is evolving rapidly. One year later Deep Blue beat Kasparov.
Since then, technology has progressed far beyond what most people could have anticipated. Any given person can be found carrying a veritable supercomputer in his or her pocket. As this technology advances, it is important for educators to understand the power technology holds not only in the classroom but also in the world.
From programs like Wix Website Builder to Quizlet to Google Drive, technology affects the modern classroom every day. With Benilde-St. Margaret’s one-to-one laptop program, the possibilities teachers have when assigning projects and assignments are endless. “It’s nice to change formats, and each medium that you’re presented with requires different engagement and different answers,” french teacher Madame Frédérique Toft said.
While technology has the capability to enhance learning greatly, it also has the power to detract from it. It is easy to get bogged down in ashy programs and tech that in reality don’t serve to supplement learning. “There’s so much technology out there, but you have to be careful in selecting what’s going to help you be more productive, more efficient with your time because not all technology does that,” Toft said.
Technology has even changed the way our classrooms look and run. Desks face SMART Boards; online textbooks replace physical ones. Inverted classrooms allow students to take notes at home and do their homework during class when a teacher is available to help them with questions. If a student is sick one day, he or she doesn’t have to worry about catching up in math class because most teachers upload their lesson PowerPoints right to Haiku.
Constantly advancing technology doesn’t only directly affect classrooms and teaching styles; it also influences the greater world. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children in primary schools in 2016 will end up having jobs that don’t yet exist. “How do we prepare you for life beyond college when we don’t even know what job opportunities are going to be like and what kinds of things you are going to learn? The best we can do is prepare you to be lifelong learners,” engineering teacher Ms. Kirsten Hoogenakker said.
The issue then becomes not how to most effectively use technology in school, but instead how and what to teach students to prepare them for a world that looks nothing like the world today. When contemplating this issue, many educators turn to educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom’s theory. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, he outlines the hierarchy of thinking skills that students are meant to master throughout their education.
The lowest order thinking skill is remembrance, the ability to recall facts. Then comes understanding what those facts mean and then applying information to other situations. These three skills constitute what is widely regarded as lower order thinking skills. Higher order thinking skills consist of analyzing information, evaluating the value of information, and creating something new out of other parts, in that order.
I hope that [education at BSM] will become more student-driven, more project and problem solving based, and that we foster student independence in learning.”
— Dr. Steve Pohlen
“Education is going to move more and more towards these higher order thinking skills because computers can do the lower order thinking. We can ask them any question and they can give us the answer, so why would we spend all this time memorizing stuff?” Director of Technology and Learning Dr. Steve Pohlen said.
BSM has taken the initiative to focus certain aspects of education specifically on those higher order thinking skills. Through programs like ACS engineering, biomedical science, Knight Errant, mission trips, and more, BSM is striving to provide a well-rounded education. “I hope that [education at BSM] will become more student-driven, more project and problem-solving based and that we foster student independence in learning,” Pohlen said.
When it comes to fostering student independence, electives like engineering are a model for other classes to look towards to see what real independent learning looks like. A large part of that comes from the chances students are allowed in the classes. Students are meant to fail occasionally so they can learn from those failures. “In engineering, just like in the field, we want students to be able to fail, to feel comfortable failing, and to know that they can do it better the next time, and then give them the opportunity for the next time,” Hoogenakker said.
It is clear that in an ever changing world, certain skills are necessary for students to thrive. BSM should continue following the path that classes like engineering have put us on. When it comes to educating our youth about living in a constantly expanding world, the primary goal of schools should be to prepare students to constantly adapt to the transformation the world undergoes.