DAILY INSIGHT: Developing authentic learning opportunities

An older article in Educational Leadership by Peter Cookson caught my eye. He wrote, “Google has put the world at our fingertips, but speed and ubiquity are not the same as knowing something.”
He fears that if we do not approach the contemporary knowledge explosion with Socratic-like inquiry, “the great knowledge and communication tsunami of the 21stcentury may drown us in a sea of trivia instead of lifting us up on a rising tide of possibility and promise.”

The point is well made. For those of us in education, the struggle now is to develop and enhance learning opportunities when students “have all the answers” at their fingertips. Traditional tests and assessments are becoming less valid and the need to inspire a desire for lifelong learning should be our goal.

One method is project-based learning opportunities that allow students to collaborate and work on authentic problems. Currently, like most districts, we are more effective at teaching long division than self-direction, collaboration, creativity, and innovation. We are transitioning from traditional whole-class instruction to student-centered methods.

Scot A. Graden is superintendent of Saline Area Schools in Mich.