An Open Letter to TVO’s “TheAgenda”

TVO and The Agenda:

As an elementary educator in Ontario for the last 39 years, I would like to tell you that after watching Monday night’s program #Learning2030 on The Agenda, my optimism for the future of education just grew even greater. I am so grateful that over the last few days you have made such a concerted effort to show the public that the tsunami of change has already washed ashore – and that our entire society is having to deal with its after-effects at the very same time as wave after wave of stunning new changes keep breaking over us. Entire professions are needing to re-educate and re-create themselves in order to be relevant in this new age. And education is in the very thick of it.

We parents and educators dropped the ball when technology changes came along, out of our fear and our collective ignorance. Both for better and for worse, we allowed a generation of kids to intuitively pick up and run with the heady potential of new social and information technologies which had few controls. Many of them quickly became the self-motivated, self-directed, collaborative, and independent learners we teachers always dream of — but not because of any help we gave them! And not surprisingly, some used it for less honourable ends.

The world of learning in 2012 has changed radically. But because our schools have not, so many of us are only now just beginning to realize and understand it. Myself included! My students have become my teachers. They have so much to tell me and show me when I am willing to listen and see. I am trying to be a good teacher, while at the same time I am trying to learn and to change and to adapt. I am a part of the changeover generation. We adults are playing a game of catch up while trying to patch the portals of danger we have allowed to exist by our collective naivitée, and calm the frothy waters whipped up by the winds of fear. It’s a huge task, and we need people’s questioning, thinking help and support.

So I want to thank you for providing a glimpse into the potentials and the pitfalls of Learning in 2012 in your #Learning2030 programs over the last couple of days. As I went to sleep last night, I knew that The Agenda and TVO had just done a huge favour for the kids in my classroom and the cause of 21st Century Learning in Ontario.

As an intelligent, thought-provoking public media, you’ve spoken for all who are working passionately to create a highly engaging, safe, and effective learning system for all of our children who are truly, already, citizens of a new world.

For that, I genuinely thank you.


About Cathy Beach

Recently retired elementary teacher and outdoor educator in rural Ontario, Canada. My Olympic Journeys may be over, but they lead me into some very exciting adventures with teachers and kids and the world of connected learning...
This entry was posted in 21st Century Learning, Change, education, technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Open Letter to TVO’s “TheAgenda”

  1. David Schreiber says:

    White-hot enthusiasm for the latest technology is not entirely a good thing. I didn’t see this Agenda, but I hope it gave equal time to those are at the same time aware of the pitfalls–for example, the harmful effects on attention span and reading and writing skills (cf. The Shallows by Nicholas Carr). New technologies should be embraced judiciously, with pilot projects and plenty of feedback. Unfortunately, in the world of education, know-nothing trustees who are afraid of appearing out of touch underwrite all kinds of half-baked projects to which ambitious educrats hitch their careers and who always, always, always deem their projects runaway successes. It takes years for the truth to come out about what really works and what doesn’t. Remember Northrop Frye’s idea that a school should deliver not the popular culture but an alternative to it. Right or wrong, his idea should be kept in mind.

    • Cathy B says:

      I absolutely agree with you – on most points. We need intelligent study and discussion, with input from all sides, which is why I was so glad to see the TVO Learning 2030 series finally bring the discussion into the public forum in Ontario.
      I am very deeply concerned for both the physical and mental well-being of my students, and I struggle to deal with my observations of the pitfalls of technology on a daily basis. If greater knowledge was already available, I would seek to understand it and adapt my program accordingly and immediately. In the meantime, I refuse to allow my students to suffer 5 hours a day of irrelevant, disengaging, or intellectually stifling learning activities, and I’ll continue to learn how to use social media and technology tools to facilitate the rich and exciting learning experiences my students and I are enjoying.
      In 17 years, the students of 2030 will be living proof of our successes or failures in dealing with the challenges facing education today.

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