Many education technology bloggers (1, 2, 3) have issued a call to transform schools into “21st century” learning institutions. Speaking broadly, these schools would emphasize student-centered instruction, project-based learning, and lots of technology use.
These authors make frequent reference to popular new books that describe how society is changing as a result of ubiquitous communication and productivity technologies. Titles include Switch (Heath and Heath), The World Is Flat (Thomas Friedman), A Whole New Mind (Daniel Pink).
I think they’re reading the wrong books. Adding more technology does not change teaching practice. The educational revolution they describe already has a name: progressive education. Over 100 years old, progressive education emphasizes learning through experience, the unique qualities of each learner, and the critical role of education in a democratic society.
Let us adopt a new reading list for 21st century learning, grounded in education theory and schools rather than technology and social change.
John Dewey: Democracy and Education, Education As Experience
Howard Gardner: Multiple Intelligences, Five Minds For the Future
Alfie Kohn: Punished By Rewards, The Homework Myth
Nell Noddings: The Challenge to Care in Schools