This is the bag that Isobel made….
It is heartwarming that she felt compelled to make it for me, her teacher and that she persevered through the months it took to do is. Yet this is not what has given me pause, nor is the exemplary craftsmanship… craftswomanship? …craftspersonship? that created it. This bag is of a quality that made me think she bought it, yet its maker is only 8 years old. No what has really stuck with me through all of this is that she gained the knowledge to do this herself. She watched a Youtube video.
In case you may have missed that, an 8 year old with minimal help from home, acquired the knowledge and understanding on a subject and applied this understanding to produce a product with great mastery of the skills needed. This has significant ramifications for us educators of which after nearly two weeks I have yet to fully comprehend.
The push in education away from rote learning is older than Isobel, older than me. Isobel’s bag could not be more a beacon of this push and the necessity for change if it tried. Our students don’t learn the same way they did when the industrial machine designed education. They can access content at will and do so anywhere they please. They can solve basic computational challenges in seconds and gain the knowledge of billions at will. The need to become vessels of information is far less, making way for the challenges of curation, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
Do we need to spend less time on memorizing the names of the Great Lakes and more time on exploring their role in ensuring access to clean drinking water for all Canadians?
Isobel’s bag forces us to think about what we are teaching our kids, but it also illuminates a method on how to educate them. The fabric and style were chosen through empathy and followed a process that fosters it. The design thinking model may have been popularized 50 years ago, but it has significant connections to the 21st Century Skills we need to be empowering our kids with.
Through using this model as a guide, our students not only are able to explore the necessary content, but gain the necessary transferable competencies and skills to address the challenges of the world.
Regardless of how we go about framing the exploration, the fact is that we have the opportunity to reflect, to reevaluate the old ways and adapt them for the differences of the day. We are able to put aside our fears and take the risks necessary. We can recognize we don’t have to have to possess the knowledge of the world because we can find the answers with them.This is a task that rests on our shoulders. We are the agents of change that can foster the curiosity of kids like Isobel.
What changes, what risks, what difference will you make to support all learners today?