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Shape shifters needed for tomorrow’s students

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SHAPE shifter: One who is able to change his identity or form at will.

From mythological creatures to modern-day characters such as Jacob and Edward in the “Twilight” series, shape shifters have always been a fascination for many in literature. However, today this concept is taking on new meanings.

In our modern world, a shape shifter can now take many forms from micro robotics that can shrink or expand as needed all the way to the rotating towers of Dubai where each floor of the skyscraper moves independently of the others to create an architectural wonder in our world today. These futuristic models are shaping technology and architecture both now and in the future.

As this brave, new, modern world emerges, it seems essential that education not only meet the needs of this new society but becomes a shape shifter as well. It isn’t enough that we are willing to change; we must become the change.

This is going to require us to jump into the unknown and go beyond our comfort zones. It’s going to require time and diligence to create or locate viable resources that will guide the future.

The challenges for us are enormous, but the risks of falling behind and resting in our past is even greater. And so I ask, are we able to change our past identities willingly to meet the needs of tomorrow’s youth?

The children of tomorrow will need far more than the basic standards of reading, writing and arithmetic to survive. They will no longer need to be taught what they can Google on their smartphones in seconds.

The lessons of the future will be greater, inquiry-based lessons that will require more creativity, more collaboration and a greater awareness and appreciation of a global environment.

The same tools that drive success and sustainability in the corporate world will be incorporated into our content standards and lessons. Beyond that, learning will become a developmental process where intelligence will be redefined as more than rote memory or testing. Intelligence will be measured by our abilities to rethink, rework and reinvent rather than just remember, repeat and redo.

Parents will have an even greater part of this future school as they raise the next generation of learners.

Parental involvement will take on new forms as well. Parents will need to understand the safety issues for this new generation of cyber learners to protect them. They will need to become acutely aware of their educational choices and their children’s instructors. They will also need to learn how to guide inquiries at home as classrooms flip and concepts are introduced online within the home and supported at school.

Moreover, they will need to teach lessons of compassion and diversity as schools become global and many other students from diverse cultures interconnect daily.

Are you willing to enter the new millennium as a shape shifter or are you just accepting the changes as others introduce them? The time is now to begin shifting our mindsets, for the future is demanding that we emerge as a new and improved system of learning.

Begin this change with positive energy, direct intention and immediate action. These are the elements that will shift us into a new school of thought and a future of possibilities for our children.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Karen Greathouse is a teacher at Central Middle School and an adjunct instructor at Harrison College.

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