Times Change, Time Frames Stay the Same

    As it does seemingly every year, an article came up about teaching cursive in schools.  I recently tweeted this post out:

    Reading this article from 2017 – Do we need to teach children joined-up handwriting? https://t.co/i68gumEU5v
    — George Couros (@gcouros) November 11, 2017

    I encourage you to read the post as there are many arguments on having cursive taught in schools, and not. Personally, I believe that students need to be able to read cursive, but spending a ton of time on cursive writing (not writing…that is something different) might not be as feasible as it once was.  There are benefits to teaching cursive, but I would hope that is true whatever is taught in school. Coding was not taught when I went to school, but now it is. What is the benefit for our students now and in the future? It had to replace something. The question is how do we get the most out of our time?
    Yet, cursive writing is not the point of this post (I wrote a post on cursive in 2011, and I encourage you to read it but more importantly. read the comments), although it is something that we need to think about and discuss. It is about the amount of time we have to teach students different skills within the school day.
    Here is the proof…
    I am leading a session the other day and asked if anyone was a student in the 1970’s. When one person raised their hand, I asked them what the time frame of their day was. They estimated it was about 9am-3pm. Then I asked if anyone who was a student in the 1980’s. One person responded, and their time frame was about the same. Then the 1990’s, and again, the time frame was the same.
    Why ask these questions? Because as the demands on what we teach increase, the time frame of our day stays the same.  You cannot simply continue to add onto the day; you have to think about how you use your time differently.  These are conversations that must take place in our school communities.
    Jordan Tinney, Superintendent of Surrey Schools, said something to a group a few years ago that stuck with me.
    “The amount of change that has happened in the last 20 years, is more than any 20 year period prior.”
    Now let’s think about that statement made a few years ago.  Is it any less valid today than it was when originally stated? Would it be any less accurate 50 years in the future or the past?  Change is the constant we deal with daily. It always has been, it always will be.   The pace of change may be faster, but it (change) will also be something that will always be in front of us.
    When people ask me, “What is the next big thing that will come our way in education?”, my response is, “I have no idea, but whatever it is, I will learn to adapt, embrace, and take advantage of it.”
    The next 20 years, more things will come our way.  The beauty and concern of that statement are that you can read it at any point in the future and it will still be true.  But the time frame of the day will stay the same.  We can not continuously add new things while holding onto the old.  We will have to engage in discussions on what our students need now and in the future, and what will serve them best. Nostalgia is not a valid strategy to help our students move forward.
    The conversations will be (and should be) messy.  It is just essential that we continue to have them.


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