Remaining relevant

2013-08-18T00:00:00Z Remaining relevantMary Tracy-MacAulay Portage Township Schools assistant superintendent nwitimes.com

A quote that I believe to be particularly relevant as we begin the new school year is by William Pollard that reads: “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

In fact, I believe this quote to be powerful regardless of whether it’s the start of a new school year or not. It’s a matter of improvement, of wanting to be just a little bit better than the day before. That matters in learning. It matters in the workforce. It matters in our personal lives and in maintaining any relationship that we have and value.

It becomes an increasingly important statement when we consider the education of our youth. As educators we must keep a constant eye on instructional practice. We must ask ourselves how we can make this topic become more relevant to our kids. How can we engage them in this process so that they are spurred on to learn more about a particular subject after the school day ends? How can I teach this in a way that makes it accessible to all students so that they realize that it will serve them later in life?

Schools across the nation grapple with issues surrounding technology in the classroom. The affordability of devices is certainly no small consideration. In keeping with that is the replacement of those, as what we buy today will be obsolete in the not so distant future, as changes and upgrades happen so very quickly. However, of even greater consideration is the idea of keeping our kids safe as they traverse the wild terrain of the Internet. After all, there is a vast amount of knowledge at our kids’ fingertips that is now accessible that, as parents and educators, we may not want them to access. That can be a frightening thought. However, our fear of what can be discovered online does not supersede their need to learn and access knowledge.

The reality is that technology is an everyday part of our lives. When was the last time you pulled an encyclopedia off the shelf to find out a little bit more about a subject? I’m guessing it’s been a while. However, if I asked you when the last time you ‘googled’ something to find the answer, I’m fairly certain each of us could provide a rough idea of a time in which this occurred. And, lo and behold, once we look something up on the Internet, we find a host of resources for us to consider. The lists are limitless and often overwhelming. Yet, they often take us to various places that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise, As a result, we learn something about a particular subject that we didn’t know before. Is that not the hallmark of learning?

Our role as educators, as well as parents, is to be actively engaged in that process. It’s our job to educate our kids on the dangers of the Internet, just as it’s our responsibility to teach them the danger of talking to strangers, the rules of the road when driving, and a host of other things that require adult guidance. We provide them with the tools, guide them to make wise decisions, and hope that all of that will be remembered when they are left on their own and trust they will do the right thing, even when no one is looking.

As the school year begins and thousands of students arrive, our goal must always be one of constant improvement, making learning relevant, and providing the parameters to guide our children in making sound decisions. Our commitment to the understanding that we must constantly seek to improve serves as a reminder that our kids, most certainly, deserve that. And, as educators, whether at home or at school, that commitment moves them forward toward a future that we cannot possibly know, but nonetheless, have a responsibility for which to prepare them.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

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