Remember the Good Old Days

Thoughts
By: 
Charles Sosnik

Remember the good old days, before COVID changed our daily routines and sent our children home to have school with their parents or grandparents?

Remember when things made sense, and you knew exactly what to expect from school? From K to 12, school meant children sitting, listening intently to the teacher, who enthusiastically delivered all the knowledge children would ever need for success in life.

Schools were divided by years. Days were divided by 50-minute classes. You had teachers, principals, superintendents.

Everyone knew just what to expect. We dropped our kids off, and 13 years later, they came back educated.

Man, those were the days.

80 percent of our students happily graduated each year.

A third of our students happily tested at grade level.

Birds chirped. Bunnies played in the meadow. Occasionally, there were unicorns.

Then the pandemic came. And our magnificent innocence was lost. To borrow a phrase from a great American poet, “There was no joy in Mudville.”

So, what to do, what to do?

Since we can’t put it back the way it was, might as well make the changes we’ve been dying to make for the last 20 years or so. Birds, bunnies and unicorns be damned, let’s reinvent this thing.

There are a few givens:

  • We all live in a digital-first world. That requires new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things.
  • Social skills and emotional intelligence are at least as important as academic knowledge, and in many ways far more important.
  • Technology is vastly underutilized in education.
  • Learning can no longer be confined to the classroom.
  • Protecting our student data and identities is vitally important.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence can play an important role if it is developed to its logical potential.
  • Parents are now more involved than they every have been. This is a good thing.
  • Education can now be student-directed.
  • Teachers find their highest calling when they lead with their humanity.
  • Technology is now capable of bringing about true personalized learning – for the first time. What we have called personalized learning really wasn’t.
  • We should strive to produce excellent humans, not just learned children.
  • Cognitive skills are the foundation for learning. These are the skills that determine whether information ever gets into our brains, whether it sticks, whether we understand it and whether we can do anything useful with it later.

 

One of the greatest developments to come out of the pandemic year and a half was the opportunity for teachers to become learners alongside their students. This should continue unabated. Let’s make school a place of learning for everyone. We have entered a time when everything is possible. And even if butterflies are no longer dancing on the breeze and bunnies are no longer singing in the meadow, we can still have the most enjoyable, productive education years ever.

All told, it is a wonderful time to be in education. We have grown up in many ways since the pandemic. We are no longer satisfied failing 20 percent of our students completely, nor the two-thirds who can’t perform at grade level. Yet we have hope. And the understanding that we are in a much better place. We now believe that 100 percent graduation is realistic. And every child can succeed past what is currently believed to be “grade level.”

And best of all, we now believe that these are the good old days.

 

About the author

Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.

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