In language arts, there’s a great deal of (but really not enough) discussion on media literacy and the types of skills we need to be teaching students. Kids need problem-solving skills, and this and that and the other thing. The problem is the people who are creating these lists of skills that kids need to have done the research, but they haven’t lived the life of the digital native. I think kids need only three things to be able to do anything:
And when I say passion, I really mean the insatiable desire to learn something. A burning, unquenchable thirst to be great at a certain thing. Almost every digital native has the skills to be great at anything they want, but they lack the drive to get there. If teachers are successful in instilling the idea of being lifelong learners for kids, I think they’ve won half the battle.
For lack of a better term. When a trained reader reads something online, he/she can easily tell whether the writer is reliable and trustworthy. Teachers don’t trust students to read articles on wikipedia and understand what is reliable and what isn’t. Unfortunately, instead of teaching students these skills, they tell them to search elsewhere for information.
At USF, I work in a computer lounge dedicated to helping education students to learning technology skills for use in the classroom. Most of the questions people ask me are questions that I don’t have the answers to. However, I know how and where to find those answers, and I know how to do it quickly. I’m not an expert with technology, but I’m an expert Googler. There aren’t many questions the internet doesn’t have the answers to.
If a child is passionate enough to learn about topic X, and we provide the means to do so, they are capable of learning anything. This may not be outlined in the language arts job description, but they are skills vital to student success, and it is our responsibility to teach them as such.