I have recently become a fan of Tony Wagner. After reading, without pause, Creating Innovators: the making of young people who will change the world, I am truly excited about the prospect of disrupting the current style of teaching in most schools. To turn upside down our current teacher-centered, information imparting model for a challenging, interactive, “information is everywhere” format seems to address the reality of today’s students.
Why not deal in reality? Our digital natives have been raised on YouTube and reality television. Let’s put them in real situations, solving real problems, using real information to formulate solutions that may or may not succeed in the real world. Where better to take innovative risks than in the comfort of the classroom as laboratory.
What was frowned on before will be celebrated in these new classrooms. Creativity, imagination, curiosity will be encouraged. Initiative and persistence will be celebrated. Collaboration will be the order of the day. Teachers will fulfill a role as mentor, adviser, facilitator, using their experiences to guide students through the processes of design, prototyping and inventing.
Students will be actively learning to observe, make connections, apply their acquired knowledge in diverse situations and to collaborate with other students who have slightly different frames of reference from which to gather solutions.
And why should we embrace this student-centered model? The answer to that questions is contained in another book by Tony Wagner: The Global Achievement Gap: why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need — and what we can do about it.