Are you truly a lifelong learner?

Having been exposed over the years (often against my will) to anything tech related, like Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy and George Siemens’ theory of Connectivism, I don’t know if I would say my thinking is necessarily changing…but maybe my understanding is reaching a deeper level. Often when I’m introduced to these ideas, it’s through Jeff (he likes to talk, I’m a counselor so I’m compelled to listen). This then naturally lends itself to me seeing things from his perspective, or a teacher’s perspective. It has been interesting for me to read some of the information that I’ve known about, but looking at it more from the counseling perspective.

When Siemens wrote:

”Learners as little as forty years ago would complete the required schooling and enter a career that would often last a lifetime”

I found myself reflecting on the traditional role of School Counselors. Our role has historically been one of career development, exploration, and college preparation. This is evidenced in the “Career Development” domain of the standards and benchmarks created by the American School Counselor Association. Siemens goes on to discuss how this ‘one lifetime career’ idea no longer holds true. He shares his thoughts on the half-life of knowledge and how the current rate of growth for knowledge is exponential. He concludes with the idea that

“Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today.”

How does this impact our job as counselors? Our role is to assist in preparing students with the skills and attitudes to be successful in life. How do we help students to develop the necessary skills when things are changing so quickly we can’t possibly know what the world will be like? It’s a daunting thought for sure.

I felt the glimmer of some answers when reading the Digital Media Youth Project and this paragraph about a ‘new role for education’ caught my eye:

“What would it mean to really exploit the potential of the learning opportunities available through online resources and networks? Rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, what would it mean to think of it as a process guiding youths’ participation in public life more generally? Finally, what would it mean to enlist help in this endeavor from engaged and diverse publics that are broader than what we traditionally think of as educational and civic institutions?”

I do believe that this is where we need to be headed…this is definitely a time for education to take on a new role in our society. We as educators and counselors must be looking at our ‘new roles’ and how we can best support our students in this digital world. Whether we like it or not (and there are certainly times when we don’t!) this is where our kids are- it’s their world, it is how they think, how they interact…how they exist. The question we need to be asking ourselves isn’t whether or not we’re equipped to help our kids navigate this world, but whether or not we’re willing to learn to navigate this digital world with them.

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