Bubble Wrap

Mark Milliron Catalytic Conversations Civitas Learning Space

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By now you may have already seen the online bubble wrap sheet. After popping a few bubbles myself, I starting thinking about the uses of bubble wrap. Most important of those uses is the wrapping of valuable articles so they don’t get broken during times of transition—particularly big moves. Then I started thinking about the major education overhaul that we’re undertaking. It’s clear that the fundamental transition from our industrial factory model of education to one better suited for our knowledge, or creative, economy is underway. And much like big house moves, this is a time of massive transition. And during transitions, there is great stress. During transitions—if we get sloppy—valuable items break. During transitions, it’s good to use bubble wrap liberally. What about our students? I really hope we’re not throwing them into the educational transition moving van without adequate protection. Are we holding them to new standards without the teaching, reaching, and leadership resources in our schools to help them make the grade? Are we tossing them about in a turbulent ride, the destination not quite in site, all the while focusing protection on past infrastructures, contracts, and models of education? What should we be doing to ensure that during this unique time of transition, our current students don’t just suffer the ride, but learn to thrive? How can we be certain these attempts to smooth the transition won’t become enabling crutches? There may not be perfect answers here. However, we definitely should be asking the questions. Unfortunately, there is a false assumption floating around that students are already there. They are “NetGen” kids, already one step ahead. I’m not so sure. Yes, they are comfortable with new technology. But are they prepared for the new knowledge economy? Are they ready to learn for a lifetime? Organizations like the Partnership for 21st Century Skills are asking these kinds of questions and engaging local, state, and national conversations on the topic. Take a hard look at their good work to get an idea of the transitional challenges we’re about to undergo. Of course we don’t need to cloister the kids. However, we should be particularly patient with a generation of learners that will live through this massive move. A little bit of bubble wrap with these valuables is probably a good idea.