April 2017 Message from the Superintendent - "The School Experience Must Evolve"
Message from the Superintendent
The School Experience Must Evolve
An Evolving World!
There is much conversation in education today around preparing our students for jobs and fields that don’t yet exist. A paper I recently read about the Internet of Things (IoT) intrigued me with its portrayal of our vastly expanding world, and I couldn’t help but make the connection to a changing, evolving job market and education. My knowledge of IoT is limited, so please forgive this rudimentary approach to considering the integrated landscape in which we are living within the context of schools. Although there is not one single definition of The Internet of Things, it is generally considered “an umbrella term to reference the technological development in which a greatly increasing number of devices are connected to one another and/or to the Internet.” It can be considered a conceptual structure of tangible things, such as commercial/consumer goods, roads, and buildings; as well as intangibles, including software and data; plus services, such as transmission and development.
It is stunning to think about the growth and innovation that comes along with the Internet of Things, requiring new forms of collaboration, knowledge, innovation and adaptability. It is stunning to consider the globally connected and open environment of our world.
The scale and scope of the types of evolution we see today – the Internet of Things is a perfect example – brings with it high stakes challenges, problems to be anticipated, questions to be answered, and problems to be solved. The Department of Commerce believes IoT poses different opportunities and challenges from those society has ever dealt with before just by the sheer magnitude of the type of evolution we are experiencing today. One need not know a lot about IoT to see that the vast connectivity and interconnectedness means much attention must be paid to the high stakes that come with such innovation – high stakes such as potential disruptions, either intentionally or not.
So, what does IoT, for example, mean for education? This world requires that we educate students to think and to ask questions. Students must not only learn to solve problems, but more importantly, seek out problems that need to be solved. It is this – the ability to adapt, question, reason – that is essential for today’s student.
What Should “School” Be?
It is not earth-shattering news to say the world has changed dramatically in the past 100 years. What is mind-boggling is that the school experience, in many ways, has not. The notion of “schools” is so institutionally ingrained in us that it is difficult to break away and consider how we could do better for our kids. What is a “school experience” in the 21st century, and what should it be?
In DMUSD, we are giving a lot of attention to making learning meaningful, where students think and interact with content and develop skills at levels never attained before. That means a school experience that is quite different from what we traditionally think of when we think of school. And we know this “new, more meaningful, thinking-filled experience” must be done with solid underpinnings of content standards and the finest instructional strategies. In DMUSD, we have focused on academic content and effective instruction in mathematics, writing, reading, and we are proud of the direct impact we see on our students’ learning. We are also excited about what’s next as we evolve to give our children the experience they need in their world! This is our charge.
Please join the conversation through our District Design Facebook page…
We want your thoughts about the school experience, and how we can capture these valuable years and eager minds with robust, meaningful experiences.
Holly McClurg, Ph.D.
Please follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DMUSD_Supt.