In this video, Michael Wesch shares some insightful thoughts on the globalizing affect of technology on education and how our education system ought to respond. Wesch uses the example of how students are engaged in his classroom to show the futility of teaching in a way that doesn't respond to these changes. When asked about their experience in his classroom, they said that they felt only 25% of the readings were relevant to their lives personally, and most of them spent more time on Facebook than paying attention to the lecture. Is this a symptom of pure distraction and attention deficit, or is this a symptom of an education system failing to remain relevant in a quickly changing world? Certainly, if his TedX presentation is any insight into how dynamic Wesch is a teacher, the former seems unlikely.
There's something in the air...
As I listened to Wesch describe the interconnectedness of much of the world today, I couldn't help but think that what we're seeing is the affects of communication technology in social media really getting underway in this era of globalization. When the first steam engines were conceived, I doubt their engineers could have conceived a man walking on the moon. In a similar way, the potential reality changing affects of global communication technology are limitless, natural, and inevitable. What is limiting and unnatural is to continue to teach in a way that is not aligned with this reality.
Problems that demand a solution...
I've spent a lot of time working and engaging in the world of non-profits. One thing I've learned about people in those experiences is that having a desire to help others is one of the most unifying things between people all over the world. I've seen tragedies in one community bring people together from all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds. That brings up a question I think educators need to be asking themselves: Why are we teaching the things we're teaching? There are many ways to answer that question, but one that comes to mind which is relevant here is - we teach to equip students to solve problems. Big problems! Problems like, how we're going to continue to feed people in era of unprecedented global population increase, how we're going to deal with the energy demands of an increasingly technologically advanced world without completely destroying the sources of that energy, and how we're going to create a global supply chain that doesn't require sacrificing livelihood in the developing world for the sake of convenience in the developed world. These are problems that demand a solution, and might bring purpose into our classrooms. After all, as the proverb goes, Necessity is the mother of invention. So, let's show them the needs. Let's challenge our students to see themselves as the problem solvers of these great needs in the world now, because in reality, they are.