Old School?

What do you consider “old school”? I have to admit that for me it conjures memories of Ms. Pansy Taylor in 2nd grade who bent our hands back to smack them with a ruler at the least provocation. **shudder** Thankfully that isn’t common anymore!

It comes to mind because we commonly hear different uses of the phrase. Just the other day my principal indicated in a faculty meeting that we would go “old school” with markers and poster paper. Truth is we worked in groups on a Bloom’s higher level thinking activity and simply recorded the results on paper. The papers were posted on the wall, we then traveled in groups adding to the information. So is using paper to complete an activity really “old school”? Sure, there are virtual spaces to achieve the same thing but is paper less valuable? Is online more valuable if we are in the same room anyway? I personally love the fact that we moved.

A search of colloquialisms for “old school” returns some interesting results. Some people think of “old school” as when things were done

better, some say it is anything started in an earlier time, yet others believe it’s when something is old and no longer relevant. In education now “old school” is the latter and taboo. With our digital world it is likened to 18th century pedagogy. We envision desks in rows with children attentively sitting, pencil in hand. Mindless thought control were the words from Pink Floyd. I’m sure readers can think of timeless strategies that are excellent ways for students to learn. Would these be “old school” and better left behind?

There are teachers who will proclaim, “I’m old school”. The interesting theme with those who call themselves “old school” is for the most part, the teachers don’t care to change the way they teach. Whatever their method of choice may be, they don’t care to try new things. Perhaps “old school” should be interchanged with inflexibility. Perhaps it is the consistency of using the same method over and over whether results are positive or not.

I don’t care to hear the term “old school”, just like I think “21st century learning” is an antiquated term considering we are over a decade into the era. We need to quantify “old school” so people aren’t afraid to do exciting and engaging activities just because there isn’t a digital component. Variety is the spice of life! Savvy teachers create a savory mix of strategies to hook learners and hopefully instill curiosity to learn more along the way.

Leave comments to share your definition of “old school” OR ways you vary instruction, old or new school.

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