By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN
Editor's note: This story is part of the CNN series, "Our Mobile Society," about how smartphones and tablets have changed the way we live. Listen to the complete story in the audio player above.
(CNN) – Middle school students at the tech café inside the Island School on New York’s Lower East Side have their laptops open.
They’re working on their next blog posts about current social issues under the guidance of their teacher, Lou Lahana.
He’s on a mission to help these kids go from being consumers of digital products to being content creators – to end ‘digital inequality.’
It's wonderful to see teachers helping students cross the digital divide. We need a revolution in education, a re-visioning of the way we think about our teaching methodologies. In the 21st century our educational approach should be synthetic, incorporating "open" pedagogies that are holistic and encourage an awareness of the interconnectedness and simultaneity of ideas across domains, time, media, and disciplines. An overarching concept of our teaching should be "I link, therefore I am" (S. J. Singer, as quoted by Edward O. Wilson in Consilience). As educators, we need to help students synthesize what they are learning in all of their classes by linking ideas among subject areas. We also need to incorporate other non-traditional domains into the classroom experience (those from everyday life), so that students will make connections to "real-life" happenings that are occurring contemporaneously with their lessons. In doing so, themes, images, and ideas will achieve a resonance that is not possible by curriculums that are "closed"–restricted to one discipline, classroom, or setting. A synthetic learning experience reinforces content, encourages the sharing and development of ideas, and facilitates critical thinking skills. Learning is enhanced, especially the ability to synthesize information and make meaningful connections. Student metacognition increases as discussions of relevancy become par for the course, literally. Our students will become the innovative “creative creators.” (Friedman, That Used to Be Us) that our globalized world demands.
James Mulhern, http://www.synthesizingeducation.net
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at email@example.com