NOTE: This article only pertains to pedagogy in response to the exclusive use of teacher-centered learning. The focus of this article is on the importance of incorporating student-centered learning.
The art of modern day teaching (pedagogy) is drastically different from that of the 50s, 80s, even the 90s, and early 2,000s. Anyone comparing the education of today to the education they had during their youth immediately makes their arguments irrelevant. Everyone wants their child to be successful, but for them to be successful they must learn what is relevant to their own generation, not that of their parents or grandparents. It’s 2022, and we should be teaching like it. For schools fortunate enough to employ the latest technology, they should be engaging students in work that will build those skills. For schools that may not have the resources to use technology, The Locke Society recognizes that and is hoping to be able to support those schools in obtaining the resources they need. Additionally, teaching has moved far beyond rote memorization, with that skill becoming more entwined into higher order thinking skills that draw on rote memorization to achieve a deeper level of understanding. Student engagement is the key to teaching, and student engagement in the 21st Century is only successful if it meets the evolving minds and experiences of students.
While many people reflect on their childhood experiences as being better and more disciplined, their childhood experiences are different from experiences of youth today. Many of us can probably say that we are not masters at social media like the younger generation is, and social media is just one example of how technology has evolved since our childhood. One of the key ingredients to successful teaching is drawing on the strengths of one’s students. For us in the past, that looked like a project with options such as giving a speech, creating a poster, building a diorama, a PowerPoint presentation, or maybe just writing an essay. Now, teachers still offer choices to their students, but they have changed to meet their 21st Century strengths and skills, and part of the reason the choices changed was to allow students to practice what they will be doing in the future.
One of the most prevalent skill sets students are prepared to master aside from technology is collaboration. For those of us who have grown up learning more independently, the stress on collaborative learning is also among the most drastic changes that takes time for adjustment on both the part of the student and the teacher. (More examples of new skill sets can be found in the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.) Whether one agrees or not, these standards outline the teaching of social studies today, and incorporating these standards will help prepare students for their futures as the rest of the country develops the same skills and uses the strategies suggested by this framework. To have an alternative to the most widely accepted standards framework, especially if the alternative wants teachers to pretend it’s 1950, only disadvantages students who will be behind all the others in the rest of the country who have developed 21st Century skills.
The importance of modern teaching methods largely rests upon the desire for the future success of younger generations. In order to propel oneself into the future, students need to be able to compete and show that they have the skill set that has matured with time. In a simple interview process, sharing that you can make a Microsoft Word PowerPoint or navigate a dictionary is not at all impressive, but knowing how to collaborate with a team, especially virtually, using the latest technology to create projects is what will impress future employers, or allow one to become an entrepreneur themselves.
Now, the push for civics has had a complete revitalization with the goal of launching students into a life of activism. For many, those words are fearful since most of the time what we see are students chanting for abortions or for socialized healthcare. However, civics can apply to conservative goals as well. Why not have students create a campaign to spread awareness about the Holodomor? Why can’t students create an action civics project to fight against poverty in communist countries? When a teacher provides suggestions, and all suggestions from the left to the right are included, they cannot be accused of political indoctrination as students are the ones making the choice for which project they may work on for the assignment. Though every administration is different, teachers always have their creativity as their greatest strength and they should use it to try their best to get around any type of far leftist agenda.
Most of us who went into teaching are likely to say, among many other factors, that we entered the profession for students and to have our own classroom where we could design engaging lessons that will help students develop their academic skills among others. Not many teachers are likely to say that they entered the profession so that they could share their political views at faculty meetings. Education has been a leftist playing field for quite some time now, and anyone acting like they are surprised that their conservative political opinions are unwanted among colleagues has apparently been far removed from reality. Going through college, aspiring teachers get their first real dose of reality with leftist professors who do not welcome conservative viewpoints, and there are even some who reprimand them for being shared either vocally in the classroom or in class assignments. None of that changes once aspiring teachers obtain a teaching position as the same people who were by their side in college are also by their side throughout their career. Still, determined teachers who stay focused on their number one goal, which is to teach students, find the strength to get through the political windstorms and get back into the classroom where they are in control of what their students learn within their own classroom walls.
Everything evolves and improves with time. From the military to medicine to transportation and beyond, all of them employ the latest research and developments to become better, stronger, and more efficient. Education is no different than any other profession that has a place in the future. While many teachers may draw on teaching philosophies of the past, the ones that contain timeless ideals are the ones that will persevere through the tough challenges that the radical left brings to the table with their agenda. If a teacher wants to provide an alternative lesson to one of the radical left, it must be as good as theirs, if not better.