Gray Hair & 21st Century Education

[media-credit name=”stock.xchng” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]I have a secret- I found a gray hair on my little ol’ head this evening.  Gasp! Amidst that heap of brunette straightness, it was pretty easy to see the interloper.  What did I do?  Leave it there?  Nope.  Let’s just say, it’s no longer there to frost the brown.

Funny thing to get philosophical over, but that little gray hair did make me think about how as educators we cling to as many of those conceptual gray hairs as we can, resulting in classrooms of the 1980’s rather than 21st century.  The more gray, the better, in most circles.  Rather than being dismayed that we’re getting ‘out of date’, we embrace being branded as old.  Matter of fact, if you don’t have all those gray hairs, you are certainly not to be trusted because of all those new fangled ideas and ways of thinking tumbling about in your head. Now, lest you think I’m discounting experience, I will say that there are areas where that gray hair comes in handy. However, given the recent research in brain patterns and learning developments ((This was something I really took away from ISTE 2010, in particular Alan November’s presentation.)), we need get a dye job….. understanding that because we are from a different generation that it will always be an effort to keep our roots from showing!  Underneath, we will still have those gray hair bents.

My recent drive time audio has been back podcasts from Steve Hargadon‘s The Future of Education via EdTechLive on iTunes.  Last week, it was John Taylor Gatto.  This week, it’s been Heidi Hayes Jacobs of Curriculum Designers.  One of the things she said in that interview that impacted me was

“No excuses. Choose your century. It’s time to move ahead.”

She also challenged educators to pick one new thing to learn, and then do it! Just learn something! “Take one dated practice, and update it.” One. One.

Additionally, I’ve been thinking about this concept of “Flipping the Classroom“.  That’s the ultimate update.  I’m wondering if students will choose to get on my Computer Lab site from home to watch a short video on the lesson for that week.  I’m playing with creating those videos using Xtranormal robots to do the talking for me.  Then, you can come get help with creating/collaborating/innovating…. and if you didn’t watch it, you get to do that first and you have less time to work on your project.

If we fought as hard to stay current in education as we do to keep the gray hairs at bay, I think we’d be a good 30 years ahead of where we are now. I’m not advocating teachers plucking themselves bald to lose the gray, but rather taking one step at a time to “update” their curriculum and instruction.  Gently washing that gray right out of their hair….

And just in case you weren’t already singing it… and in honor of 1980-style classrooms across the country…

How many gray hairs are on your head? ((We’re talking conceptually here, friends. The true state of your hair color is strictly between you and your hairdresser.))  Are your roots showing? ((Again, see previous footnote. :D))  Do you need to update?  Can you take on one thing this week to update?

4 thoughts on “Gray Hair & 21st Century Education”

  1. 🙂 I have WAY too many gray hairs!!! I’ve been thinking about flipping the classroom stuff too. Yesterday I sent a link to all the secondary curriculum leaders about it – one of the posts I really liked from the UK.Guardian. What are your thoughts about flipping in elementary? It seems like such good fit for that level, I wonder about the potential for the little guys…

    1. I’m still thinking on that one, Diane, especially given the homework my children have each night. My hope is that I can make the flip stuff engaging enough that elem kids will chose the watch the videos for fun, free time!

      Here’s a short, sneak peek, very beta look at what I’m trying to do:

  2. Excellent quote from Heidi “No excuses! Choose your century. It’s time to move ahead.” I couldn’t have said it better! Gray hairs can’t be worn as a badge of honor unless they symbolize wisdom. Wisdom says that we are living in a new time with different futures and expectations. Wisdom says that we will teach our students the skills they need for the time they are living in. No excuses. If the gray hair is an excuse not to change, it isn’t working any more. Love how your gray hair led to such reflection…the heart of a teacher, always thinking about education and making connections 🙂

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