Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘21st Century Teachers’

So…are we going to mention 21st Century LEARNers?

In Classroom Teaching, Technology on 12/03/2012 at 9:31 am

As soon as I finished up yesterday’s post on the human literacies we need to have as teachers and educators, I realised that I have not paid much attention to the kids and young adults that are at the sharp end of all our teacher literacies and fluencies.

I got up super-early this morning to draft a post or two on 21st Century LEARNers themselves. This was hard going – and after several cups of “kahve”, I still did not have much. I almost gave up!

Tweet-tweet –  @AnaCristinaPrts to the rescue!

Ana Cristina suggested that I drop by a site run by Sarah Elaine EatonLiteracy, Language and Leadership (three of my favourite “L’s”)…

Sarah is based in Canada and she had done an amazing list of characteristics of the 21st Century LEARNer – and where I had only managed to come up with 10 or so (even when I was on intravenous Nescafé and filtered Java), she had turned out 21!

So, I dropped her a line and asked if I could re-post the list – here it is (and Sarah, you are a “star)!

  1. Want to have a say in their education. They’ll respond better when their voices are heard.
  2. Often have higher levels of digital literacy than their parents or teachers. They don’t know a world without computers.
  3. Expect transparency in their parents, teachers and mentors. They’ll see right through you. (Makes it really hard to plan a surprise birthday party for them!)
  4. Want you to tell them when you have messed up, apologize for it, and move on. Everyone messes up. No big deal. Just don’t try to hide it. If you do, they are likely to post it on Facebook.
  5. Don’t care as much about having a job as they do about making a difference. The very concept of a “job” has changed so much in the past decade, the future is about making a difference.
  6. Demand the freedom to show their wild creativity. 21st century learners balk at rote learning and memorizing. They’ll do it if you make them, but be prepared to let them loose to be creative, too.
  7. Want to connect with others in real time on their own terms.They want their social media, their phones and their mobile technology. They want to be connected. All the time. In a way that makes sense to them (not necessarily to you).
  8. Collaborate amazingly well. They love teamwork and figuring things out with their friends.
  9. Really can multi-task. To do other wise is… yawn! Bo-ring!
  10. Appreciate a “trial and error” approach to learning new skills. Thank you, video-game industry.
  11. Learn by doing. Just try making them sit down and learn from you by watching. See what happens.
  12. Have a “can do” attitude. Of course, they can do it, silly! There is nothing to be afraid of.
  13. Thrive in an atmosphere of controlled challenge. They must be challenged or they zone out, but they need structure, too.
  14. Have multicultural awareness and appreciation. This generation is more aware of a variety cultures, countries and ways of life than any generation before them.
  15. Open to change. Really, what’s the big deal?
  16. Are equal parts “consumer” and “creator”. Today’s learners download their own songs and apps from iTunes… and then they create their own stuff and upload it to share with others.
  17. Increasingly aware of the world around them. From the environment to politics, today’s learners are asking questions and demanding answers.
  18. Know where to go to find information. Google was first incorporated in 1998. 21st century learners have never known a world without Google.
  19. Are better educated than any generation before them. (See #17.) 21st century learners really do know more than their parents (but that doesn’t necessarily make them wiser!)
  20. Expect inter-disciplinarity. It is we, the older generation, who organize topics into “subjects”. The 21st century learner understands that subjects are inherently interconnected. Like, duh!
  21. Know that they are the future. They look at their parents and their peers and understand that the world’s future rests in their hands. (Wouldn’t it make you just a little bit cocky, too?)


What I liked about Sarah’s list (apart from the fact that it saved me a “pile” of work) was the way it brought together not only skills and abilities – but also many of the values and beliefs that our 21C Kids seem to haveIt got me wondering whether the characteristics we had been looking at (for the “21C Teacher”) were similiar – they were!

However, and Greg picked up on this, too (Cheers Greg), Sarah had developed her set of 21 characteristics in Canada – based on her work with schools and universities there. 

I wondered:

  • How do our 21st Century LEARNers (here in Turkey) stack up against these characteristics?
  • What are the similarities and difference (if any)? And…are these similarities / differences “only” linked to technology and the digital landscape we have today?
  • How do we know this?
  • And…what the heck are we doing to help TEACHers get ready for these kids?

UNlearning TEACHer LEARNing…and other rubbish!

In News & Updates (from the CBO), The Paradigm Debate on 07/03/2012 at 9:00 pm

Now, this one…I know…is gonna get me in trouble! 


UNlearning (DUMBest idea ever) Ver 02


There I said it


…I said what thousands of TEACHers are thunking! TEACHers who have been watching really dumb business “thinking” creep into EDUcation for years!

I offer no apologies

…and, I do not care what Alvin Toffler or Jack Uldrich says!


Yes, this time – we have a “real rant” from Tony Hocaand not just because it sounds even DUMBer in Turkish“unutmayı öğrenme”!


If you do not like what I am saying…

SUE me (Ver 02)

And, be “warned” – if anyone wants to disagree with me, my lawyers and I will invoke the EDUcational version of the small penis rule and its equivalent on Venus!

Besides, I have my mum-in-law on my side!


I know we are supposed to show “deference” and “respect” to ancient thinking – and, that the whole idea of unLEARNing goes back to Lao Tzu:

–  for my sins, I have incorporated many of “his” other teachings into my own LEARNing over the years.


But, and here’s the deal…do we even know, one way or the other, if Lao Tzu really walked among the living…if (even) Lao Tzu was a “fella”? Maybe, you never know, “he” was a female of the species…who made her cash on the speaking circuit of Ancient China around the 6th century BCE.

Smart girl! Very smart girl!


A couple of hundred years later Antisthenes also tried to re-brand and re-launch the very same notion – and got more specific:

Socrates was a great teacher but I guess it’s true that the exception proves the ruleAntisthenes may have graduated with a 4.0 GPA from his great mentor’s school but then lots of people with “school smarts” are not always as “smart” as we imagine.


Members of today’s “unLEARNing cult” also point to Thomas Wolsey (Henry VIII’s Cardinal and Lord Chancellor) and use some of his more famous words to make the case for unLEARNing:

Funny really – when I look at this quote, it just reminds me what nonsense it is to suggest that unLEARNing really “exists”


I also know that one of my best “mates” and “drinking buddies”, Leo Tolstoy, also helped these dudes out by throwing a bit of kindle on the more recent unLEARNing fire: 

– but, come on, we know how much he “pushed the envelope” in the vodka department!


What I do not get is when really “cool” EDUthinkers jump on the bandwagon.

Thinkers like Will Robinson (no, not the one from “Lost in Space“), when they talk of the “unLEARNing curve” that teachers have to climb to become 21st Century TEACHers.

The SECRET (Expletive)

Many other academics have chosen to use the conceptwithout even requiring a “definition” of the word. Most of them do not even feel the need to “prove” their “argument” – unless we believe that motherhood statements, fortune cookie platitudes or quotations from dead guys now pass as “research”!


I just find it amazing that so few serious academics (if any) have challenged Uldrich’s suggestion:

I must have “missed” that memo…


And, so it seems did some of the “best” EDUthinkers on the bloody planet – my lawyer (basically, mum-in-law) has suggested I refrain for naming (even more) names (but you know who you are)!

Will, I love you to bits, but – come on, do you really want the phrase “an EDU-Uldrich” to be on your tombstone?


OK, OKlet’s put our cards on the table!

I know that I, too, have been guilty of stroking the ego of those that have “re-brewed” Lao Tzu’s words of “wisdom” (my bad…I was drunk at the time – with Tolstoy)!

– but I have LEARNed and I made a choice…

..and, want to “go public”!


Yes, I am admitting that I too have been guilty of donning the emperor’s clothes…and that I was “naked” for a while (not a pretty sight – any more)!


Sorry, about that…


We do not unLEARN anythingwe do not reLEARN anything. That is, of course, UNLESS we are one of those unfortunate victims of massive brain trauma or suffer from Alzheimer’s disease – my heart goes out to all of these people and their devoted carers.

We just LEARN…and make more informed (or principled) choices!


unLEARNingis a “word bite” (thank you – John) – not even clever enough to be a bloody “sound-bite”Dare I say it (of course, I do)…not even worthy (or long) enough to be put on a “bumper sticker”!

But, hey…people can sell “books” and get some great “speaking gigs” on its back!

Who am I to stand in the way of “progress”…or LEARNing?


I get that politicians find word-bites really sexy. I get that business folks are so busy that anything longer than a bumper-sticker comment takes them away from their profiteering.

But, heck and damnation (my daughter reads this blog…better be careful)…it now appears that these “word-biteteers” can even “develop” public policy in education…and see fit to tell teachers how to “LEARN”…all over the bloody world!

We ARE educators…we know better…we ARE better!

One of my favourite movies is The Usual Suspects – and in this great movie we LEARN that:

Usual Daleks (movie quote TG ver 03)

The greatest “trick” Jack Uldrich seems to have pulled off is to re-convince some of the “best” captains of industry…and, now, academics (who ought to know better) that unLEARNing exists…



BUT, Tony…don’t you think we should say a word or two about upLEARNing?