Friday, July 17, 2015

Why Was Doogie Howser An Anomaly?

Remember Doogie Howser, M.D. of the late 1980's early 1990's television world? According to the world of wikipedia (,_M.D.), he graduated from Princeton at age 10 and finished med school four years later. We watched each week as this phenomenal surgeon was dealing with teenage acne, typical teen best friend goofballs, and first girlfriends while prescribing drugs and working heroically in the medical world as the country's youngest licensed doctor. As a kid of the 80's I was drawn to this larger than life character that didn't seem plausible...or did it?

One thing I look back at now as "telling" of the TV show was that Doogie kept an ongoing journal on his computer. Most episodes typically ended with him entering an entry on his computer. In an age where computer technology was just finding it's niche in the world, it makes this EdTech person's heart happy when I think on this. It also leads me to this blog post.

Should Doogie Howser's really be an anomaly in today's world? Granted there are social, emotional, economical, and educational ramifications of the EXTREME example of Doogie but the question remains, are we holding our students back in our typical ways of teaching? I watch these days as my friends that homeschool their children often send their kids on to college at age 16 ready for their next adventure. I see students I teach that could probably "test out" of some classes they are required to take just because that's what the rules say. I see required "seat time" as a help to education systems but a hindrance to some actual children.

In today's world with the availability of learning and teaching within our grasp 24/7 due to online learning possibilities that are both structured or unstructured, do we have a responsibility as educators to change the way we educate? Do we break down the walls of age-based grade levels? Do we allow students (and their families) to be more in charge of their path of learning? Do we adapt and adopt personalized learning plans for every child we educate not just the ones with special needs?

It's a can of worms. We, as educators fear it because we loose control. Can it even be managed? If this idea was adopted, there wouldn't be any "cookie cutter curriculums." Does that make education more or less expensive? Does that make schools as we know them obsolete? And then what do we do with the kid that finishes "Physics" in the first quarter that is sitting next to the kid that doesn't finish it by the end of the school year. Thinking about the what if's is overwhelming but are we really best meeting our students' needs teaching the way we have always taught when the greater possibilities for growth are so easily and cost-effectively accessible in today's world through technology?

I do think Scott McLeod's recent 3 minute video for the ISTE board is spot on... We must start thinking outside our comfort zones of what education looks like and beyond to visioning what it could look like.

Food for thought.