Monday, May 9, 2016

Trending Fads

Lots of people talk about trends and fads in education. There is always a discussion about which ones will stick around and stand the test of time. Most educators find themselves on one end of these discussions. On one hand you have the educators who are skeptical of any new idea or product. They are often traditionalists who think that if it is always worked then why change anything. We all know who these teachers are as they often sit in the back of staff meetings rolling their eyes and scoffing at anything new being shared. On the other side you have those that get excited when anything new comes about. They are the early adopters and easily excited by shiny and new like Tommy Boy with a new sale. :) Yes, there are those that find themselves somewhere in the middle but generally speaking most educators find themselves on one of these two extremes. This is not just a technology thing but with any new idea developed or suggested.

Over the past several years we have seen numerous new “things” created, shared and pushed across the education landscape. We have new devices, Learning Management Systems, flipped classrooms, makerspaces, project-based learning, and many other ideas and products we could list. When any of these ideas of products come out there is always the debate over which ones are worth investing time or money in based on a projection of what will last. Teachers don’t want to waste time learning something or buying something that won’t be there next year or even next week.

I think about all of these new ideas and someone recently asked me if I had an opinion on which ones would last. The discussion was about which ideas were fads and which were trends likely to change the way we do education. After thinking about this, I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter. We obsess over which ones will last and which ones won't but at the end of the day does it really matter? If you take any one of these new ideas, devices or products and it helps kids in your class, does it matter if it's a trend or a fad? Is it possible that the flipped classroom or a Chromebook or possibly project-based learning really connects and works with your students this year but falls short next year?

At the end of the day realize what your students need and provide that for them. Regardless of if the idea or device was created last week or last decade, it shouldn't matter. What should matter is the impact these practices have on our students. If something is going to help your student learn better or improve as a human being then who cares if it's a trend or a fad. There is a flawed assumption that new inherently means better. That is just not true. Maybe we need to stop obsessing over defining such things and just focus on what works for our students today while recognizing that it may very well not work for them tomorrow.
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