Challenging Teaching Paradigms

I have recently been made aware of a young child who is not yet able to attend school because of their age, but knows all their letters and numbers, and read basic sight words and makes sense of their world through investigation.

This child is so digital literate they recently logged onto a computer (putting in a password) went to the internet browse, proceeded to type a URL for the Footy Tipping competition, logged into their own tipping and completed their tips for the upcoming round.

The digital literacies involved in this process with all due respect are beyond some adults, and far surpasses many of the child’s peers. Although this is an amazing feat to be completed without any interaction or support from an adult or siblings, the piercing question for me as an educator is:

  • How will this child be catered for at school, knowing the likely teachers are very traditional teachers who highly regard foundation learning as pencil and paper writing sentences for the teacher with little technology incorporated?
  • Are the skills of the teachers going to enhance or stifle the child’s love for learning and technology? How can the teachers be supported to provide authentic learning for this child?
  • Will the school have the capabilities to cater for this child upon enrollment or are there resources and procedures that need to be put into place to recognize these skills and support the teacher and student in their learning journey?

I am reflecting upon this for a number of reasons, Firstly I am in a position where I can support teachers and help prepare them for this and other “undiscovered” students, with similar abilities. I know if this child had the ability to read short novels or could add and subtract 3 digit numbers there would be strategies for support put in place and consideration made when placing them in a class. These considerations would include the teacher abilities, class structures and additional support. When dealing with advanced digital literate learners these support considerations can often be superficial and not given enough attention. The provision of Learning Technologies and the possibility to be placed in a composite grade to ensure the child is placed with others who might have more advance technological skills would be highly benificial for this student.

Secondly, What potential does this child have and how can we as teachers and as a school embrace this and provide a stimulating education for this child? Good professional practice states this is a question we should pose for every individual student and not assume they are all going to learn at the same pace and in the same way. We know the importance of technology, but how can this be incorporated into teaching practices? We don’t want to just digitize the processes that are currently completed manually we must reinvent the learning and make it authentic in a digital world.

As leaders of technology in education we must “break the ice” and change the paradigms of colleagues to ensure they are prepared for this student, and the many more to come with this background. They must be equipped with the skills, tools and knowledge to cater for this new generation of learner.

To support these teachers I have begun by presenting teaching and learning tools that can provide traditional learning whilst providing opportunity to expand with the technology as required for the individual students. I am also preparing a learner management system for the school to enable students to participate in learning anywhere-anytime. These resources with condense the “tested curriculum” and allow for more inquiry based authentic learning that will expand the students as a digital learner and citizen.

I recognize that my skills alone are not enough to support teachers in this manner, therefore I will be calling upon my Professional Learning Network for ideas and resources. I will demonstrate the possibilities of this vast resource and hopefully in the process I will encourage others to get on-board to seek resources and support from educators world wide, This is a clear demonstration of the authentic learning we should see the students doing in the near future.

Unfortunately I am unable to make decisions at this point in relation to resources and human support for students like this, but fortunately I can make recommendations to a very receptive Principal and leadership team, which we can only hope will be acted upon.

As a side note the image below is a screen shot of the child’s tipping for that round of footy.

What a fantastic result, only one wrong – this child truly does know their stuff!

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