We all are concerned about the future. As educators, we see the future unfolding each and every day as we watch our students grow and develop. We see students we had years ago and are amazed at the young men and women they have become. And there is such an emphasis on the future in education of late. The phrase future-ready appears time and again in my social media feed. My concern is that I think this phrase means very different things for some. So here are some random thoughts. I am still mulling things over in my brain, but for now these may seem disconnected.
1. Future-ready should not mean ignorance or dismissal of the past.
2. Future-ready has to mean bringing people along, bringing them into the fold so to speak.
3. Future-ready needs to be more than a slogan or a catch phrase.
4. Future-ready cannot and should not be only about technology.
5. Future-ready needs to be grounded in good pedagogy, based on firmly grounded research.
Here are a few reasons I am raising a red flag. I see the term makerspaces being used for activities that are more arts and crafts than for true makerspace activities. These spaces are to be for invention; often, I see that all students are making the exact same thing. How is that innovative? I like this article (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7095.pdf) from Educause.
In looking ahead, I want to be sure that educators do not lose sight of what came before. Authentic reading and authentic response has a long and illustrious history in education. How we reach these goals might change and evolve, but some things remain. We need to know Rosenblatt and acknowledge the role she played in response. We need to know the work of Atwell and how she informed this process. We need to realize that our work has a firm foundation in the work of others. We need to acknowledge our "ancestors."
For me (and I know I am not alone), future-ready includes texts. Books do not disappear in the future. Libraries should not disappear. And librarians need to be a part of the future. I see too many folks praising book-free libraries saying kids can access books via the Internet (huge question of access here for starters). I see too many schools where the librarian has been removed and replaced by an aide or a parent volunteer (how hard is it to check books in and out after all?). There is more to a rant here, but I will return to this topic down the road.
I also see teachers as part of the future-ready movement. Unfortunately, folks outside of education believe teachers can be replaced by computer programs. Or if teachers are present, there is no autonomy. They teach the program. All are on the same page on the same day in the same way. This is so troubling. It resonates of dystopia for me.
So, all you future-ready advocates: let's pause for a moment to consider that future. Let's make sure we share a vision, we share a passion, we share a path.