If 12-year-olds ruled the world, what would school be like?

[tweetmeme]I spent the weekend imagining I was twelve again. Or rather, I spent the weekend with 30 other teachers from across the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah pretending to be twelve again. The immediate goal – to feel what it is like to be 24 hours in the life of a Digital Native. The grander goal – to understand how students think and pass time in order to translate our lessons into the language that 21st Century learners speak.

Imagine: If twelve-year-olds ruled the world, what would “schools” be like today?

Having a hard time being back in middle school?! I mean it – braces, hormones, big dreams and all! Well, thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, understanding what it is like to be twelve through the brain of a 30, 40 or 50+ year old educator, just got a wee bit easier!

Watch the video above to learn what MacArthur grantees are doing to Re-Imagine Learning in the 21st Century. Then check out:

  • Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (Mimi Ito, et. al.) to see what teens really do online. Download book summary here.
  • YouMediaa 5,500-square- foot room on the first floor of the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago, buzzes with teens hanging out with friends, remixing their own rock videos, tapping into the library’s large collection of youth literature, and using the Internet to dive deeply into issues of interest. Learn more here.
  • Quest to Learn – “a school based on Kid Culture” all about inquiry-based learning, game-like learning and new learning environments.

I don’t know about you, but being 12 seems pretty good now!


Founder, Bon Education


PS Thanks to international education consultant Kevin Simpson from Know.Do.Serve.Learn for sending me a link to the video above!



8 Responses to “If 12-year-olds ruled the world, what would school be like?”

  1. 1 Technology March 17, 2010 at 1:48 am

    I am still trying to learn about blogs. I am amazed at what is out there. Your video was interesting and informative. Technology is here to stay and the rest of us truely need to catch up!

  2. 2 Leah March 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I liked the core principles expressed in the video – most especially: “We need to shift from the consumption of education…to participation and production.” It reminded me of the One Laptop Per Child model where the computer isn’t set up for consumption but for participation and production.

    It get’s frustrating watching kids stuck in old, old school models. It’s great to hear about people like you actively thinking outside of those boxes!

  3. 3 Brian Kuhn May 31, 2010 at 12:46 am

    I just read an article “The web shatters focus, rewires brains” in the June 2010 Wired magazine by Nicholas Carr and wrote a post reflecting on it. Although I totally agree with the video – we need to reimaging learning and school. I also worry about pendulum swings based on “beliefs” about kids today. You use the term “digital native”. Most often this is used in the positive but I wonder if we’re not paying enough attention to the possible negative aspects. I encourage you to read the Wired article and if you’re interested, my post “This is your brain on technology”: http://www.shift2future.com/2010/05/this-is-your-brain-on-technology.html

  4. 4 readinggal June 2, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Thanks all for your comments! Brian, I was really struck by the Wired article you recommended, “The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains“.

    The part that discusses hypertexts and multimedia texts has huge implications for creators of e-learning modules. One would think that multimedia offerings (e-learning that combines text, videos, simulations, etc.) would be more effective learning tools than pure text on the screen. But, the research the author (Carr) points out implies the opposite:

    In a study published in the journal Media Psychology, researchers had more than 100 volunteers watch a presentation about the country of Mali, played through a Web browser. Some watched a text-only version. Others watched a version that incorporated video. Afterward, the subjects were quizzed on the material. Compared to the multimedia viewers, the text-only viewers answered significantly more questions correctly; they also found the presentation to be more interesting, more educational, more understandable, and more enjoyable.

    I found it funny that while the article was poking at all of the “distractions” online from videos, hyperlinks, etc., the article itself was peppered with links, distracting videos on the site, etc.

    My take on the Internet as a thinking and learning tool, is the same as my take on diet and exercise – moderation is key. While the Internet gives users access to unprecedented information and opportunities, it can also lead to distraction and “shallow thinking”. I agree with your own blog post:

    There is a lot for us all to learn about how to deal with the chaotic information and device world we live in and how to take best advantage of it for our learning and work. In spite of the “dangers”, I am a firm believer that technology, used effectively and not allowed to run our lives, proves to be an amazing learning, engaging, efficiency, creative, … tool for all of us.

    As instructional designers and educators we must be careful to design learning experiences that emphasize deep thinking, critical thinking, visual-spacial skills, social consciousness and more. Teaching is an art and the Internet is just one of our paint brushes/tools. How we put all of our tools, thoughts and inspirations together requires true skill, passion and imagination.

  1. 1 If 12 year olds ruled the world, what would school be like? « Making Connections Trackback on May 30, 2010 at 12:23 am
  2. 2 If 12 year olds ruled the world, what would school be like? « Making Connections Trackback on May 30, 2010 at 12:25 am
  3. 3 If 12 year olds ruled the world, what would school be like? « Making Connections Trackback on May 30, 2010 at 12:50 am
  4. 4 What makes learners tick? The science of motivation… « Literacy is Priceless Trackback on June 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

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