The year 2020. I have a Cynical Me and an Idealist Me. Knowing that the web and global technology will always flat out leave classroom instruction and technology in the dust, the cynical me says that the next four years will bring little significant change in education. The reality is that nothing in education moves quickly, and compared to web and technological advances, education is a slow, January drip of molasses: my district still touts educators as “amazing” and “excellent” whom I regularly would observe “lecturing” from behind their desks, asking and answering their own questions, with students sitting pseudo-attentively in nice little rows.
But, as I said, I also have an Idealist Me.
“We are living in a world that is increasingly interdependent. Local and global affairs are deeply intertwined, and technology has transformed the ways in which most people interact, access knowledge, work, and participate civically…If we are to help students develop the capacity to make their communities and societies more inclusive and sustainable, school and district leaders must provide the conditions, empowerment, and support for teachers to integrate global education curriculum in the classroom. In doing so, schools can help replace fear of difference with understanding (Reimers 2016).”
Whatever else one may or may not believe about Donald Trump’s candidacy for president of the United States, I believe we must truly hear the beliefs and concerns of the many people he has been able to attract and who vehemently support and defend him. We need to hear the desire that they express, whether overtly or covertly, for “strongman leader who [will] preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien (Taub 2016).”
Those who are among Trump’s most radical followers are not the only Americans who are shaken now. My husband and I have been talking about it for months, and, if I may be so audacious as to speak for the American people, we are all uncertain to varying degrees about the times that we live in. Even if we are comfortable with the dramatic social change that our nation has been undergoing: legalization of gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, overt questioning of white privilege, growing diversity, to name only a few; most of us are unnerved by the physical violence that has been so prevalent: Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Nice, unfortunately, to name only a few.
What do I want to see in 2020?
That the promise of the Read/Write Web to give each of us a place to share our ideas and our fears and our thoughts and our beliefs will be fully realized in every classroom as a way to begin to connect throughout our nation and world. That the ability of the Read/Write Web to let us engage with the ideas and fears and thoughts and beliefs of others different than we will be fully realized. That classroom instruction will include, even focus on, guiding students in how to take part in civil discourse: respectfully agreeing and disagreeing; confirming and discarding after thoughtful analysis, evidence review, and reflective consideration. Technology will engage students not only with their classroom peers but with other students in the nation or across the globe to learn about one another, to collaborate on solutions for problems facing our world, to make strong, positive connections across the globe.
I believe that the classroom–a single classroom-can be a powerful place of story and connection. And the Read/Write Web has the tools to allow our students to share their stories, hear other’s stories, and to connect. And perhaps this is idealism taken to the extreme, but I also believe that the intersection of sharing story, hearing story and connecting–is healing. I believe that when each of us is given a voice and each of us is truly heard, hate and violence and fear dissolve. We could use that. We could use that today.
My greatest hope for learning in 2020 is that the tools and the skills that can create connections of positivity across the street and across the globe are taught to our children so that they will have a very different future than the present that we have today.