Most of us are familiar with the Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and how visits from three spirits altered his attitudes and dispositions. These spirits helped Scrooge to reflect on what was important in the past, become aware of what was happening in the present and prepare himself for the changes he would experience in the future.
Well, like Scrooge, anyone involved in the education field is occasionally haunted by the ‘ghost of education past, present and future’, and like Scrooge we each have the potential to improve our attitudes and dispositions in a way that encourages and enlightens those around us.
The ‘Ghost of Education Past’ reminds us of a time when school was much simpler. Rows of seats in neat lines, every student holding the same Basal reader, assignments given, assignments handed in, and few behavior issues. Things may have felt safe and secure in that atmosphere where lessons were presented the same way to every student and you moved on regardless. There was no RTI, no IEP and no TIF. There was the teacher, the students, the curriculum, end of story and it seemed to work fine, or so we thought. Some may be tempted even today to embrace the staunch face of the ‘Ghost of Education Past’. I mean, Bah Humbug! Didn’t we learn and grow under her regime? Well… we may have; but did everyone else?
And on that note, a new spirit enters the stage; the ‘Ghost of Education Present’. This spirit challenges us to educate in a new way—to educate individuals, not classrooms. We are challenged to differentiate, discover learning styles, alter teaching methods, use technology, use manipulatives, use art, music, drama and any other creative avenue we can think of that will remove a barrier or break through a wall. We are challenged to train students to collaborate, question, speak out and think critically. We want problem solvers, 21st Century thinkers, College and Career ready students, common core aligned lessons with inquiry based modes of teaching. The ‘Ghost of Education Present’ is large and demanding and even a little over-bearing at times; but he is on the right track to prepare students for the ‘Ghost of Education Future’.
The ‘Ghost of Education Future’, the spirit we fear the most, will bring many changes to teaching and learning. Technology will, no doubt, play a key role. Teaching methods whether direct instruction, student based teaching, distance learning, independent studies or the countless other strategies we now use will evolve and grow. We may anticipate what changes the future of education will bring, but no one can truly know for certain, we can only commit to implementing change and making things better for those we teach.
In the final paragraph of “A Christmas Carol”, years after his change of heart, Charles Dickens writes of Ebenezer Scrooge,
“it was always said of him (Scrooge), that he knew how to keep Christmas well”.
I hope that I am remembered one day as a teacher that “knew how to keep education well”. And in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us all everyone”!
Written by guest blogger Mrs. Shelly Webb, Conesville ES, paraprofessional and teacher in training.
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