Tara, Emily and Dhugan took part in the listen2learners forum at the Melbourne State Library, on Monday 11th October. This forum was an opportunity for teachers, education department leaders, software designers, business leaders and other interested parties, to listen to learners. I was blown away by the maturity, independence, collaboration, problem solving and confidence which was evident in each of the 12 school groups who spent the day talking to the adults.
Several things impressed me at the forum. The technology savvy students was the first stand out impression, but another fabulous “take away” for me was the genuine interest those attending the forum, actually invested in really listening to these students. This was not just a token forum where innovative projects were show cased. The “listeners” were really listening. They were really interested in what the students had to say, what they were doing, what they were thinking and where they were going.
Another thing I will never forget, is the comment Tara gave in response to a question from one “listener” who asked the students, “so what is e-learning?” For a moment, they said nothing. They did a lot of looking at each other without coming up with an answer. Finally Tara shrugged and replied “it’s just what we do.” The man who had asked the question, grinned broadly and said “yay!”. He went on to explain that as a dinosaur, he had a tag for what it was the students were doing, because it was so different to how he had learnt at school. The fact that our students don’t see it as “using computers”, the fact that they see it as “just what we do” was exactly the response he was seeking.
I came home from this amazing forum with the confirmation that tomorrow’s leaders are indeed in our schools today and that the skills they are developing as collaborators, communicators, innovators and problem solvers can only be further developed if we continue to listen to what they have to say. We need to be less “sage on the stage” and much more “guide on the side” (INTEL Teach to the Future.) We need to let go of the reins and give them the opportunity to lead. We have got to learn to listen!