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All We Need is . . . Self-Reliance???

Tremiti??? Delicata???  shaved king boletes???????  haloumi????? (This last one was auto-corrected by my spell-check three separate times).  If you know these words you are much better read than I am (which is difficult), or watch tons of Food Network.



What do these words all have in common?  They were ingredients included on my menu from an amazing dinner at Sitka and Spruce while I was in Seattle recently.  As I sat there, staring at the menu, panicking because I didn’t know what to order,  I rushed to think of a solution to my problem. As I saw it I had 3 options:

        1. Ask the server. (Is that the politically correct term now?) Doing so would admit ignorance not only to the person taking my order, but also to every customer within earshot.  If you’ve never eaten in the foodie restaurants of Seattle. The one thing they do have in common is that the spaces are small and the tables are extremely close.

        2.  Wing it. Try to reserve my selection to the safest item on the menu, which in     this case is anything that I can pronounce. While that might save my dignity in the moment, it might also rob me  of the most delicious meal I’ve ever had.

        3.  Figure it out. What tools and/or resources do I have at my disposal to address the immediate problem?  Of course the simple answer is the smart phone that I addictively and compulsively always have within reach.  

I decided to go with option 3.  With a quick search I discovered that “tremiti” was a way of preparing an olive.  “Delicata” is a type of squash. And my favorite “haloumi” is a variety of goat cheese from Cyprus.

While this information allowed me to make a more informed decision about what I was going to order, I noticed a much larger phenomena going on around me. As I sat back and watched and eavesdropped on other conversations going on around me (admit it, we all do it), I noticed that most of the other guests at the restaurant were doing the exact same thing I was doing (using their smartphones to search for ingredients, not eavesdrop). Even though each of us had the same basic options to rectify this problem, we had all chosen a similar path.

You may not be impressed by this simple act of self-reliance, but it made me think of an article I read a few years ago about the iPhone as a way for humanity's never-ending quest for self-reliance.  This little nugget of an article really embodies what I believe is the goal of our school systems. The goal isn’t to have kids learn how to use specific tools, but instead the goal should be to empower students with the dexterity of mind to adapt to the new tools that are on our horizon.  So today’s Google search, could be tomorrow’s 3-D printer that can make a delicata squash.  The point is, when we as educators struggle with making our “Leatherman tool” fit into the iPhone world, we must reassess our reasons for attempting to do so.

 Ideally, our students would have the capability to adapt to the Leatherman tool, the iPhone, or the 3-D printer, but we must begin now by making sure that we as educators understand that the end game isn't to have students master a set of blueprints that aren't adaptable to our ever-changing world.

We must always ask ourselves, "How will what we are doing today impact their tomorrow?" If we don't have a good answer for that question, then why are we doing it?




Shifting the Classroom Paradigm

Shifting the Classroom Paradigm