Postmodern Schooling

February 10, 2003

On Saturday, there was an NPR show about how education has to change to deal with a new generation who thinks differently. It was basically about the whole modern-to-postmodern transition, but in schools not churches. Some highlights:

  • Observing a cutting-edge classroom, the reporter remarked, “This doesn’t look like classrooms I’ve been in before. The teacher is actually encouraging multiple conversations to be taking place simultaneously, instead of insisting that everyone listen to him.”
  • In this classroom, history reports are no longer written papers, but videos made by the kids.
  • The teacher must shift from “the sage on the stage” to “the guide by the side.”
  • Kids grow up playing non-linear video games in which they can determine the order of the storyline. And then they’re expected to work through a linear textbook where you can’t go on to Chapter 3 until you’ve completed Chapter 2? It doesn’t work; you lose the kids.
  • Kids are attracted to technology, so technology is a way to reach them. But what if a school doesn’t have much money? They observed that the technology doesn’t have to be fancy; even graphing calculators work!
  • Even graphing calculators are resisted by “old-school” teachers.

When I remarked to Kay that nowhere in the show did they use the words “modern” or “postmodern,” she replied, “Only moderns feel a need to label things as postmodern.” Touche! I resolve never to use the p-word in our home group.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.