Yesterday, I attended the annual parent orientation at Xavier School. Unlike past years, there was something different about this year, I realized. I would be attending activities in this school for only one boy (my other boy already graduated high school and is facing a new life as a college freshie).
Ever since Fr. Johnny Go, S.J. took over the helm as School Director, I have seen vast improvements in terms of facilities, quality of faculty, curriculum, use of technology in academe and so many other aspects. In a previous post, I described how the school turned virtual during Typhoon Ondoy when school was suspended for 10 days. While many schools lost school days, Xavier students continued to study and do assigned homework via the net.
At the orientation, I eagerly awaited Fr. Johnny’s presentation to the parents. His part is always something I look forward to. After all, when the School Director blogs, uses multimedia in his presentations, has a Facebook account and maintains his own YouTube channel, you can be sure his talk would be a very interesting one. I was not disappointed.
Fr. Johnny talked about how important it is for schools (and parents) to learn how to educate and parent this generation of tech-savvy kids.
He described the TV Generation I belong to (the age when baby boomers first encountered a television set and whose free time was spent in front of the boob tube watching episodes of popular shows). He also described the next younger set called Generation X (that age group between mid 30s to mid 40s that were schooled in classrooms where passive learning was the norm: teacher lectures and student “vomits back” what he absorbed during exams).
He next described the 2 generations that students belong to now: The Net Generation (kids from 13 yrs old and up) and the Next Generation (those below 12 years old). These two generations have absolutely no fear for technology; in fact they embrace it wholeheartedly. But with such wide access to information at the tips of their fingertips, schools face a new challenge in teaching them, something that Xavier is moving briskly into. Unlike the generations of parents where a student WAITS for content before ASSIMILATING it, learning for 21st century kids must entail what Fr. Johnny calls the 5 “-ate’s”:
* LOCATE content (e.g., how to use search engines to find information)
* INTERROGATE the results (learning not to just accept search results as truth but to interrogate which is true, half-true, or false)
* CREATE and COMMUNICATE content
* COLLABORATE with others
At the same time, kids must learn 3 things that go along with ease of technology access and information:
1. RESPONSIBILITY – kids in this generation tend to have less self-discipline, less regard for rules, and even less for privacy. Case in point is how open they are with their lives in social networking sites like Facebook.
2. HONESTY – The Copy-Paste technology makes plagiarism so easy. Kids have to be taught to respect intellectual property in all aspects of schoolwork and even after school. Cheating (texting answers to someone else) is a lot easier too although Fr. Johnny says this is not possible in Xavier where boys’ mobile phones are not allowed inside the school grounds.
3. RESPECT – Cyber bullying is real and our kids must be taught to protect themselves from such threats. In turn, they also need to be aware of maintaining courtesy in their online dealings with others.
It becomes important, even mandatory, that schools and parents alike adapt education and parenting to 21st century learning styles. We can no longer teach the way we were taught or parent the way we were reared by our parents.
I am glad that being a blogging parent has brought me as close to technology as possible. I “hang out” with techies and kids half my age who often become my teachers as I try to learn more about the technology available. My kids can relate to me as I am on the same social networking sites as they are. At the same time, being familiar with sites where my kids are allows me to impart advice to them on how to safeguard and protect themselves.
Xavier School, in my opinion, is a trendsetter in terms of merging technology and learning. Here are some ways they make it fun for students, administrators, teachers and for us parents:
1. Most schools have websites; Xavier has a blog – What’s the difference? Websites tend to be 1-way and push information to the readers. Xavier’s blog has comment sections in every post, allowing us to give feedback right there and then and for school authorities to reply back. Interactive, right?
2. Most of the teachers and administrators have Facebook accounts and students/parents are their Facebook friends. Even if school’s out, communication does not stop. We are able to communicate directly with teachers if we need to.
4. School newsletters, journals and parent bulletins are downloadable from Xavier’s site.
5. Fun ways to encourage technology use are introduced, just like the ongoing pre-opening of classes’ video contest among teachers and staff called “Flip Out” (pics taken from Xavier School’s site).
When a school knows how to turn LEARNING INTO FUN for everyone, you can be sure that creative juices will continue to flow and that the students will become adept at merging academic work and technology.
As for us parents, the challenge remains. If we want to safeguard our children from a different set of threats which are primarily web-based and if we want to be able to close the so-called “generation gap” by understanding what they do and love doing, it will bode well for us. Parents who embrace technology will see how much closer their bonding will be with their kids. In my case, I know my kids sometimes read my blogs but more often than not, we communicate with each other and their cousins on various social networking platforms.
Watch this short video that Xavier School presented to the parents during this year’s orientation. It’s easier for everyone to stay on the same page when you know where you’re heading.
What about you? In what ways are you able to close the gap with your children in terms of embracing technology? Are your kids’ schools adapting technology more and more into the curriculum? Let me know…