In the recent years, there has been many changes in education. These new changes and ideas have spread across the nation, even influencing schools in the Carlsbad School District. Although many students are yet to experience this revolution in learning, it is taking the world of education by storm.
In the Carlsbad community, Magnolia Elementary School has become involved in the teaching revolution by moving into a more innovative and hands-on experience in their classrooms. Principal Aaron Nelson has played a big role in influencing his staff and communicating his new ideas.
“I think that unfortunately in education today, we still put a lot of emphasis on knowing information which is becoming more and more obsolete,” Nelson said. “I’ve got an echo dot sitting right here on the table and I can just ask Alexa anything I want to know. I could go on my phone and pull up anything I need to know on the internet. Having that information stored in your head is not as valuable as it used to be because of technology. So now education needs to be a lot more focused on helping develop skills like ‘How do you find information?’, ‘How do you put that together in unique ways?’, ‘How do you come up with creative solutions to a problem?’, ‘How do you communicate?’. The soft skills need to be much more important today than knowledge and content.”
By making learning similar to a “real life” working environment, administration and staff are able to shape students into problem solvers that are prepared to enter the workforce. By focusing on these skills, students are not only prepared for the working world but for life as well.
“I’m encouraging the teachers to look around our community and our world to see what is going on, what problems do we see and how do we use that to create projects were kids can be researching, exploring and connecting with experts,” Nelson said. “I think we need to do a lot more with helping kids to reflect on their learning, get feedback, go back and tweak what they did and set goals. We need to have kids constantly reworking, setting new goals, prioritizing and making the work that we do at school look more like the work we do in the real world.
Principal Nelson’s ideas have influenced an exceeding amount of teachers and have changed the dynamic of many of the classes at Magnolia. Fourth grade teacher Ehrin McDonald has begun to alter from a more “traditional” teaching style to new and innovative ideas.
“I’m not necessarily a fan of worksheets,” McDonald said. “I feel like that whole ‘Kill and Drill’ mentality of doing one thing over and over again is just not producing inspired learners. I think it kills creativity, I think its low hanging fruit from an education standpoint. It’s a management tool of keeping kids busy. I don’t necessarily think that it’s always the best way in trying to figure out if someone understands the skills. It’s the easiest thing to do, to pass out a worksheet, but I like to move much more towards project based learning.”
As this “new” education continues to take influence over the teaching world, more and more students are able to experience these new methods that will help prepare them for their futures. In the next few years, administration and staff see a bright future for the growth in classroom learning.
“I think in five or 10 years, hopefully we will move to a place where we continue to do a lot of the same things that we are doing now but our goal was always to figure out ways we can put more and more of the ownership in the hands of the kids so that it’s not your teacher’s classroom, but it’s the kids classroom,” Nelson said. “It’s not the teacher coming up with a projects, but it’s the kids and what their interested in and their passions to help drive the projects that they are doing. We want our kids to be equally important in our community and I think that over time, we are continuing ways to do that.”