I come from a background of grade school and post-secondary sciences, wherein a typical semester goes something like this:
First: Go to class, watch PowerPoint presentation, furiously scribble notes; receive content, receive content, receive content.
Next: Study notes, re-write notes, study notes again, and again and again.
After that: Write a midterm, including maybe some short answer, maybe some long answer, but mostly multiple choice.
Then: repeat times one more midterm, times one final exam, times four other classes.
Enter multimodality, multiliteracy, and a shifting paradigm in 21st century education wherein the emphasis is now on “soft skills” such as communication, collaboration, and flexibility. In other words, skills that can be brought in to the real world and applied to an increasingly uncertain future are valued.The ability to absorb content and regurgitate it back on to a test sheet is not seen as the “be all end all” in education, and I couldn’t be happier. As well, I am moved by the novel and multimodal ways that these skills are being taught, from construction of comic books and the use of apps such as Twine, to classroom discussion and inquiry.
I find it so fascinating that this shift is occurring right at the time that I am entering my teaching career, and that it is such a stark contrast to the education I received in my grade school and post-secondary years. I learned skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving in my post-secondary education, but the learning curve was steep, and I wish I had been better prepared prior to University. I am excited at the prospect of teaching these skills (in multi-modal ways) to students way earlier in life, so that they can transition more easily in to post-secondary studies, but more importantly in to the larger world outside of school.
Finally, it has been really interesting having to “unlearn” a lot of the learning habits that my prior schooling experience has taught me. I don’t need to “cram”; instead, I need to “reflect”, and it is again such stark contrast to my old world of facts and figures.