What makes Teaching from the Middle of the Room unique? Why invite teachers and administrators to change when most of them seem to prefer to do what they’ve always done. The answer is simple: because educators must change practice if they are to meet today’s digitally-driven children. What issues, then, do teachers face? And, who are today’s children?

 

It is no secret that  teachers are frustrated by a double-edged predicament: Reformers plead that they teach critical thinking skills, creativity, and effective communication to meet the challenges of a global world, and at the same time, school officials insist that they meet the tireless demands of annual state and federal testing. In addition, they face expanding curriculums, larger classes, and smaller budgets. It’s no wonder they retreat into the cocoons of their classrooms, which remain the same private, isolated worlds of their childhood classrooms.

Our students, however, are different than their teachers were at their age. The more time they spend alone watching TV, playing video games, text messaging, tweeting, and conversing on cell phones, the less time they have for thinking and learning—for spending time with their minds. They are becoming conduits of information without reflection—without ownership. The digital culture holds their attention by demanding immediate responses with hardly any concern for content; not responding immediately means, “You’re not my friend.” There is anxiety here. Multitasking—as good as students may claim to be and as much as we may admire it—means to dart in and out of different media without taking ownership of any part. The mind can only attend to one cognitive task at a time.

For more of these ideas you can purchase Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn (Stetson Press, 2010) from Amazon.

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