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Forward thinking teachers impress academic

Media Release
18 April 2008

Forward thinking teachers impress international academic.

When the radio was first invented it took 38 years to reach an audience of 50 million. Television took 13 years and the personal computer four.
It took six hours for the iPhone to reach 50 million people.

This is the speed of the technological development today’s teachers are being asked to keep up with - and one of the reasons why we need to change the way we look at today’s classrooms, says international academic, Dr Brent Davis.

Dr Davis has shown what the PPTA has known for a long time – our teachers know what they are talking about when it comes to looking to the future.

A professor in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education at Canada’s University of British Columbia, he spoke to today’s PPTA professional conference about educating for the future and complexity thinking.

Dr Davis has looked thoroughly at the challenges teachers face, when they are being asked to educate students to use technology that doesn’t exist for jobs that haven’t been invented yet - and is impressed with the grasp on these issues New Zealand teachers appear to have.

He was particularly impressed with the outcome of PPTA’s “Secondary Teaching Into the Future” paper, which was developed last year as a response to the same OECD statistics that prompted the Government’s Education for the 21st Century report.

“Secondary Teaching Into the Future” took the initiative of asking teachers what they thought education for the 21st Century should look like, and much of what our teachers advocated in terms of changing learning systems for students was exactly what Dr Davis’ research had led him to believe.

“I applaud the PPTA Executive’s intuition to organise the core of “Secondary Teaching Into the Future” around the principles of learning and systems…I have not come across that anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Dr Davis looks at the educational world through complexity theory, which on the surface sounds pretty confusing. But basically one of the things it boils down to is seeing the classroom not as a machine or a flow chart, but rather an organic system.

He believes we need to change the way we look at educating young people because they are hugely different from the generations that came before them.

“This is happening now – when we wake up in the morning things are different,” he said.

Today’s students face a world of globalisation, changing ecosystems and even changing languages. There are five times as many words in the English language now than there were in Shakespeare’s time, he said.

To sum up the need for different thinking in different times he quoted Albert Einstein.

“We can’t solve problems using the same kind of logic we used when we created them”.

The PPTA professional conference “Secondary on the Move” continues tomorrow at the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Auckland.


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