No, Today’s Students Don’t Learn Differently

If you’re working in instructional support (#edtech, instructional tech, learning support…whatever you want to call it) you’ve probably heard, “Today’s students just learn differently.”

No they don’t.

Writers will write. Storytellers will tell stories. Musicians will make music. Athletes will compete.

People have drives to be creative, curious, playful, impactful, relevant…

What’s different is the fact that school rams them through a system which actively works to standardize as much of the process as possible. We’ve built a system which prevents students from using the outlets available to show off their learning. By default, the system eliminates creative, playful, impactful work.

Today’s students don’t learn differently.

Standardized Test flickr photo by biologycorner shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

What I’m finding is that teachers, when shown methods and tools that give students opportunities to be creative, are surprised at how learning changes. As they struggle to characterize what’s happening, the easiest explanation is that today’s students are just “different.”

We fail to recognize that it doesn’t take a computer to allow students to engage. My job is to help teachers figure out how to get out of the way. The challenge is to make sure that teachers see instructional benefit in shifting practice with – or without – the technology in the classroom.

Featured image is Creative Playground flickr photo by Radoslav Minchev shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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