Thursday, January 6, 2011

Get Ready, Here She Comes...

We got the papers in the mail today. It’s official. My baby is going to school this Fall.

In some respects, I’m happy. She loves to learn and has already started “playing” school. She loves to be creative and she loves playing with other kids. However, I’m also a little concerned. For one, I can’t believe our little baby is already old enough to go to school. And, I’m concerned about what educational journey lays ahead for her. With UPK (Universal Pre-Kindergarten) in the mix, she’ll be in the system for 14 years before college. (Assuming the current traditional notion of “grades” and the hierarchy of what’s appropriate at specific ages stays in place--and I’m not certain it will...)

In a recent keynote, I showed the conference participants a picture of my daughter. The picture showed her independently navigating the Facebook page for the Dinosaurs that were on exhibit at our local science museum. She knows how to independently work both the iPod and the iPad, choosing games, applications, and books she wants to interact with. She navigates the Nick Jr. website on her own. With help on Skype, she’s video chatted with her grandparents, helped to read books to 2nd graders in North Carolina, and chatted with folks in New Zealand and England. She has her own blog with pictures she took. (Though she does have a little help uploading them!) For her, technology is as common as air, and she doesn’t know the world as a “what if” zone. She knows the world as a “what next” zone. Everything is possible. Her mother and I can’t undo that. That world is her reality.

With that in mind, this is what I hope she experiences:
  • I hope she is valued for what she brings to the table.
  • I hope she gets to be creative, often.
  • I hope her opportunities extend well beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • I hope she enjoys learning.
  • I hope her teachers know that her mother and I will support them.
  • I hope she is prepared for 2025 well before it gets here.
  • Right now, her plan is to open a restaurant when she is older. At the moment, her menu only includes rice and salmon, but I hope that every single dream she has is believed in, supported, enhanced, and expanded.

I am specifically and consciously not saying that I expect her to use this gadget or that tool, or that this methodology is better than that methodology. Those things are ephemeral. I want to see a strong focus on curriculum, connections, and lots of choices around proving that learning is happening. I want to see her work with her peers both in the classroom and around the world to create products of value that prepare her to fully take advantage of the world she’ll be graduating into. I want her to have the opportunity to solve real problems with depth and complexity, and make an authentic contribution to her world while she learns to independently navigate it and plumb it’s every nook and cranny. (And also to experience the joy in the discovery of what the world has to offer.)

I want her teachers to be willing to teach and reach beyond the box, to be innovative.
I want her teachers to be partners in her learning.
I want them to be passionate beacons. I want them to be uplifting, forward-thinking champions of humanity. I want them to be engaging, inspirational, and spirited.

It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if they were also well caffeinated. There’s a connected, charismatic, and curious little girl heading their way. My little girl.

Get Ready! Here she comes...

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