ESSENTIAL QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN SHIFTING CONTENT FROM “WHAT” TO “WHERE” AND “HOW”?
Twentieth century education was defined by the “what”, the passing of knowledge from a content expert to a novice learner. The focus was on the content. “When an education is content-based, the primary skill being practiced is memorization: you learn it, you repeat it, and you've shown mastery of the information” (Pahomov). The “what” is easily assessed; you either know it or you don’t.
In the twenty-first century, learning has become more complex. With unlimited knowledge at our finger tips, knowledge is “less a question of “What is the information?” and more of a “Where is the information?”” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Loc 1260). Shifting content from “what” to “where” and “how” changes the focus of learning. “When students are liberated from the monotony of memorization, they have time to learn the deeper frameworks and contexts that give facts and figures meaning. Then they can apply these understandings to any content they encounter in the future. The skills that they learn become the enduring understandings of their education.” (Pahomov).
The biggest challenge in shifting content from “what” to “where” and “how” is our human resistance to change. Our schools and philosophies are stuck in the industrialized era of schooling. Schools have been teaching and assessing the “what” for so long that it is hard to move away from it. Traditionally, education has been defined by the passing of knowledge from a content expert (teacher) to a novice learner (student) and it is hard to change. There can often be resistance and pressure from those outside of education too because they expect education to look the same as when they were in school.
Most traditional educational instruction overlooks the constructionist approach. Hands on, making and playing are important to the new culture of learning but that looks different then traditional education. “When we build, we do more than create content” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Loc 1313). Yong Zhao, author of “World Class Learners”, writes that we need to prepare our students for the globalized world and that is not something the traditional classroom is good at (Zhao 2012). By shifting the focus of the content we can cultivate independent thinkers who think creatively and foster the engineering that is in all humans.
If we understand the power of “where” and “how” then we can help students develop a deeper understanding about the content. “The shift to “where” alone is significant, but perhaps more vital is the fact that it also opens up the other two dimensions that emerge as cornerstones of the new culture of learning” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, Loc 1277).
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Chapters 1-2. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace
Pahomov, Larissa. "Education for the Information Age”. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2015. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/115009/chapters/Education-for-the-Information-Age.aspx>.
Robinson, Sir Ken. "Changing Education Paradigms." YouTube. RSA, 14 Oct. 2010. Web. 09 Oct. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U>.
Zhao, Yong. World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press, a Joint Publication with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2012. Print.
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