Sep 23, 2011

21st century knowledge needs

I've experienced a tension between two poles these past two days. I'm at the North Carolina Teacher Education Forum and have been to some sessions that are pulling me in different ways. On the one hand, our state's education standards are pushing us to teach K-12 students in our state to be able to use "21st century" technology. We're not always sure what that means, but one really interesting example was having student calculate the distance to the moon by measuring the radio echos from NASA tapes of the radio transmissions from mission control to the moon landings and back. But then, I went to another session on a group that was working with the public schools in Malawi. Malawi is one of, if not the poorest country in Africa, has a life expectancy of less than 40, and many other systemic problems. This group went with very "low tech" solutions such as crayons and poster-size books to help teachers (who may have 120 students in a classroom) teach students of various languages.

On the one hand, I want NC children to have strong technology skills (and thinking about technology) but what about those students in Malawi? How do we help them learn just basic skills? They're in the 21st century too, whether they look like it to us or not.  Which group do I serve best in my job? What is most Christ-like? My thought is to serve the Malawi as they are so far behind in my perception and would benefit so much more from what seems to us like such small effort.

Perhaps after more reflection I will think more clearly about this.

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