Alan November graced us with his presence today in North Platte, Nebraska. It was a pleasure to hear his inspiring words and to enjoy his wonderful wit. I appreciated his approach and the challenges that he gave to us as educators. Some highlights from his presentation include:
Alan shared the idea that when 80% of the population was involved in farming there was a sense of responsibility and children could contribute in a meaningful way in a family or community. Today technology will change 80% of current jobs. Education needs to be about children creating, organizing, and producing, and we should look at technology as learning jobs; essentially, kids need jobs like they used to have on the farm; no, not feeding calves, cleaning stalls, or stacking hay, but meaningful responsibilities – I know you all know this but I’m just addressing the smart alecks. 😉
Alan mentioned some jobs that should exist in our classrooms:
- Curriculum Review Team
- Tutorial Creation/Organizing/Design Team
- Global Communication Team
- Official Scribes
- Resource Finders
- Technical Editors
He recommended teachers, students, and classrooms create custom search engines (See Google Custom Search); that we must connect kids to community; teach web literacy and critical thinking; and use a contributing model that provides for meaningful work, opportunities, products, and learning.
In essence, it is a “return to the farm” – children contributing and collaborating. I grew up on a farm/ranch and I had meaningful work everyday of my life. Our livelihood depended on each person doing his or her job well, and it was vital work indeed. If I was asked to ride a horse through blizzard conditions to pick up a newborn calf it was important that I did so; otherwise, a calf that would eventually be worth as much as $2000 or more dollars would die frozen in the night. Many do not have that kind of responsibility today and that is okay, but without something to be responsible for a child is missing the opportunity to be valued. This should happen at home, but it can be reinforced at school as we help students, young and old, to accept jobs that have value and substance and are meaningful in a young person’s life in today’s busy world. The jobs Alan mentions are simple, but they are important, and we should provide opportunities for students to serve as they learn and learn as they serve.