It is possible that time has even caused you to look back at those days of microfilm, card catalogs and library stacks — not to mention mom’s upright typewriter and all of that messy carbon paper and white-out — with a sort of fond nostalgia.
Innovation of personal technology has caused most of us in this demographic to adapt or get left behind.
Innovation is American in nature. Its root word, "innovate," is a verb meaning “to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products.”
Americans tend to cherish innovation and celebrate innovators as heroes. However, when it comes to innovation in our schools, we often take a collective pause. That nostalgia kicks in and it is easy to think that the way education was for us is the way it should be for our children. For those in that mindset, hold on to your hat — revolutionary change is going on all around us and it is not slowing down.
As the world has changed, so has the workforce. Gone are many of the routine jobs once available for high school graduates.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, technological changes, as well as an increase in global interdependence, have caused major implications for the U.S. workforce. The growth of what is now a “knowledge–based” economy requires skill levels a lecture and a workbook cannot deliver.
As the requirements for the end-result of education have changed, so must the manner in which education is delivered.
Whether it was the stone tablet, slate tablet or touch-screen tablet, teachers have always used “modern” tools to enhance their ability to teach. The best practices in education today include a great deal of differentiation, and modern technology excels at meeting student needs across the learning continuum.
Teachers can use the same piece of technology to identify individual learning needs and to provide unique learning opportunities. This ability to individualize the learning experience is key in allowing us to prepare students for their future in the job market — a job market that may not even exist yet.
Whether a student comes with little technology experience or significant exposure to technology at home, teachers strive to provide new opportunities. Teachers encourage students to become skilled digital citizens who can pursue their own learning, collaborate with others, evaluate information and create something new. Technology in the hands of our students allows each learner to readily take a concept and apply his or her creative process to express learning in a way that relates to each individual. Technology opens doors to ideas, shared learning, concepts and thoughts that exist beyond the walls of our schools.
The Grand Haven Area Public Schools mission statement includes "to work in partnership with the community to provide an excellent education that will prepare all learners for the challenges in a changing global society.”
The change of our global society is well underway. How we change our schools to match it will define how successful our students become.
The fabric of our education system and its values will not change. However, the threads that we intertwine on a daily basis to deliver a world-class education will look different. Our students are ready for the challenge. Our job is to meet them and lead them on their journey to excellence.
This community column was written by Grand Haven Area Public Schools employees Doug Start (technology coordinator), Valerie Livingston (principal of Mary A. White Elementary School) and Kevin Polston (principal of Lakeshore Middle School).