“...the ways in which young people are different today as learners may be the most fundamental change we need to understand as we consider how to close the global achievement gap.” -Wagner
Wagner describes our students today as the Net Generation. They grew up digital and, as we know, it is integrated in every aspect of their lives. Our students are different than generations before. Wagner states that they no longer can learn effectively through lectures and interacting with the text, they learn through discovery and through creating. They want learning to be an active endeavor where they are interactive producers and not passive where they are isolated consumers of information. Some corporate leaders are concerned that the coming generations because they think they have poor work ethic, but what we need to understand is that they are motivated to work in different ways. Wagner talks about their continuous partial attention and their need to be busy, to be alive, to be connected and to be heard. In order to engage our students, I agree with Wagner when he says we need to catch up in the classroom with what kids can do outside of school. Think about how you search the Internet. You start researching one thing and that leads you to other links and new searches and the learning taking place and discovering information is interactive, and nonlinear. This is how we need to teach our students. In addition, the Net Generations has a different relationship with authority. As teachers, we are transitioning from the ultimate authority into facilitators of learning. We need to model our thinking of discovery, support students to take control of their learning through discovery and encourage creativity. Because, in fact, this generation’s motivation for a career is one where they are happy, making a difference and creating, so let’s prepare our students for that.
Although all three of the schools described seem like awesome, progressive schools producing highly productive citizens, I feel like I would be happiest at High Tech High, location being one of reasons. I like that HTH doesn’t track their students by ability nor do they offer AP classes, yet almost all of their students go to college and many get into prestigious Universities. I don’t agree with tracking because it tells kids from a very young age what their path in life will be. I think tracking can stifle interests that have yet to surface in young teens. After what I have been reading about AP classes and how heavily they teach to the test, I am not convinced that students who aim to take multiple AP classes are necessarily being prepared for the current marketplace. I like that HTH focuses on rigorous activities for students and envision students “...being in the company of a thoughtful, passionate, reflective adult who invites you into an adult conversation which is composed of the rigorous pursuit of inquiry.” (Wagner) The classes focus teaching students to be deeply critical of less content. I like that students are held accountable and assessed through electronic portfolios displaying their best work, a substantial internship and a senior project before they graduate. I like that the school starts at 8:30, a more reasonable start time. I like that the bathrooms have murals and the students are constantly working hands on in classes and sometimes outside. And finally, it sounds like the principal at HTH is supportive of continuous growth of teachers in their career. I had the opportunity to observe at HTH in San Marcos and as I was walking through the halls, it definitely felt like an inviting learning environment I think I would be happy working in.