The Lamar Superintendent’s Academy School Board Conference was held in san Antonio and here are a few of my thoughts about the information shared on Saturday. Ian Jukes was the speaker and is well know world wide as an advocate for educational reform. You can learn more ablut Mr. Jukes at http://web.mac.com/iajukes/thecommittedsardine/Home.html the Committed Sardine Website.
What did I learn in San Antonio?
Lamar Superintendent’s Academy 2009
This entry is just a few notes about the information I received at the Lamar Academy Convention in San Antonio, Texas. What did I learn?
I learned that Ian Jukes is from British Columbia, Canada and played professional football in the Canadian League (that did not count due to it not being the NFL).
I learned the TTWWADI’s are a formidable resistance to change in the process of educational reform. That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It = TTWWADI.
I learned that the Solid Rocket Boosters on the Space Shuttle were limited in size by the width of the tunnels along the railroad system that delivered them to Florida. The railroad with was determined by the width of wagons being built in the early 1800’s and the wagon widths were determined by the ruts in the existing roads in Europe before America was settled. The width of the ruts in the roads in Europe were determined by the wheels of Roman War Chariots some 2300 years ago and the Roman Chariot was designed to be the width of two horses rear ends. THEREFORE, the size of the Solid Booster Rockets on what is arguably the most sophisticated peace of technology on this planet was determined by the width of two horses’ rear ends 2300 years ago!!
On a more serious note, I learned that we are on the very edge of an Exponential Growth Explosion. This is one of the factors that must be considered when planning for the education of future generations. Changes will happen faster than ever before and we need young people that are comfortable in this climate of change. The statement was made that our young people live in The World of Fundamental Uncertainty. This will only become more common in the future. Change is the constant that our students will have to embrace and use to their advantage.
I learned that there are Several Exponential Global Trends that are driving the decisions about change in the education process. Here they are;
1. Moore’s Law was first introduced in the mid 1960’s and stated that technology will be twice as powerful and half the price every two years. Since then the theory holds true with the exception of what was once every two years is down the every twelve months. As Bio-technology and Nano-technology begin to advance, the time line will be cut to every six months.
2. Photonics or Fiber-optics have almost unlimited potential to increase the speed at which information is delivered. The amount of bandwidth being purchased per one dollar is tripling every four months. It is possible that we can see speeds one trillion times faster than today in twenty years.
3. The Internet had 20 users in 1990. Today there are 113 new users added every minute. Do you know about MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia, Ebay, Skype, Second Life, Twitter, Podcasting, Blogs and Web 2.0? These represent a new form of communication and information delivery system that the Digital Native considers essential to existence on earth! You might also note that you have not seen any of these advertised on TV and yet hundreds of millions of people use them every day.
4. The term Infowhelm describes the situation where we have access to more information than we will ever use. Much of this information is “Disposable” due to the accelerated rate of change we have been discussing. By the time you here about it, it’s obsolete. Imagine, information that is as perisable as fresh fruit.
5. Biotechnology is on the rise and is the sum total of all the trends we have previously discussed. Invetro “no kill” meats, grown body parts and genetic mapping. The statement was made at the session that “The difference between Science Fiction and Reality is that you have to make Science Fiction somewhat believable.” Remember Exponential Times!
6. The things discussed in trends One through Five have already taken place. Now for number six. Nano-technology. This is described as “technological fusion” or the combination of all the trend we have been talking about. Technology that gets smaller and more efficient is not a stretch of the imagination. Think about stereo equipment. Start with wall components then boom boxes then IPhones and tell yourself that little programmable nanobots are not possible.
These six things are part of the exponential explosion that our students must be prepared to participate in and be successful. It is our job as Digital Immigrants to insure that our Digital Natives have the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to be a part of this ‘new world’.
I will end with a ray of hope for the good old teachers of my generation. None of this calls for the abandonment of the core curriculum that is basic to all successful learners. There will always be a place to practice the core subject areas and instill core beliefs in our students. We need to insist that our young people respect the values that make us who we are. There is no substitute for honesty, work ethic and self discipline. However, we need to look at the world around us and change the delivery systems to meet the needs of our students. There is no place for a school system that is training 21st Century Learners to succeed in a 1950’s world.