I envision education as a force where curiosity and passion drive learning. I see students and teachers, equipped with a mindset of creativity and innovation, growing together and becoming producers of their own learning. Within this context, teachers provide authentic challenges that foment creative thinking and lead students to promote change in wider audiences. In this ever-changing world of education, disruptive innovations level the playing field of technology and allow personalized learning environments to significantly change the way we tailor instruction to students’ individual needs (Arnett, 2014).
In 2007, Thomas Friedman, columnist for the New York Times, crafted an equation that complements well the scenario of rapid changes to the educational world propelled by technology integration: Curiosity plus passion is greater than intelligence. Friedman is convinced that the merge of CQ (Curiosity Quotient) and PQ (Passion Quotient) has the power to fundamentally change the way we learn, re-learn, invent and re-invent ourselves. This mix doesn’t come in a packaged curriculum, though. It is in the fostering of thinking dispositions our students will need in order to thrive beyond our classrooms, through purposeful, balanced and engaging activities and real-world assessments, that Friedman’s equation is revealed. It is in inspiring and building independence, in allowing students to make their own choices, that we accomplish our mission as educators.
Given that new literacies — digital, global and media — are becoming a fundamental aspect of students’ learning experiences, they have the potential to provide a solid ground for collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication in these ever-connected times (Jacobs, 2013). Educators have the essential task of leveraging these literacies for creative thinking as well. To nurture creativity and innovation, teachers need to foster a mindset of growth, collaboration, and continuous trial and error, where imagination and ideation flow without restraints. Digital tools in the classroom offer an opportunity to achieve this goal as they enable students to see themselves as creative forces in their work space.
However, empowering students to take ownership of their learning involves a buy-in from key stakeholders, namely, teachers, policy makers, and parents. Instructional models certainly need to be updated, but not without the premise of sustainable change grounded in the concept of flexibility. I envision personalized learning environments that leverage schedules, groups, space, roles and practices to honor individuals in detriment of one-size-fits-all solutions (NMC Horizon Report, 2014).
With a commitment to a student-centered approach that expands via curiosity and passion, fosters creative thinking and a growth mindset and is supported by technology integration and its anchoring pedagogies, personalized learning might as well come to stay. The next five years can, and most likely will, bring significant transformation to our classrooms and work spaces. Those changes, however, will not change our responsibility to model and nurture life-long learning and equip our students with the right tools.
2014 (Revised: Oct. 2016)
Friedman, T. (2013). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as much as I.Q. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=2&
Jacobs, H. H. (2013). Leading the new literacies (Contemporary perspectives on literacies). [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Arnett, T. (2014). Why disruptive innovations matter to education. Clayton Christensen Institute. Retrieved from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/why-disruptive-innovation-matters-to-education/
New Media Consortium. (2014). The NMC Horizon Report: K-12 Edition. NMC.org. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/horizon-project/horizon-reports/horizon-report-k-12-edition