Earlier on in this course, I read a post by a fellow student Jess Hamer. She brought up an amazing fact about the changing role of ICTs in education in just 25 years – that's the time since I graduated high school myself, wow. That in itself inspires a lot of thought about change in the past. Then she asked the question “But how will we teach the unknown?” Oh yes, the future. We can't escape it, and why would we want to?
This concept comes up a lot in our education studies – preparing students for an unknowable future. So what can we teach our students to prepare them for this? The lessons would seem as unfathomable and as unknown as the future itself.
The best lessons that we can provide then would appear to be generic, all-round skills that can cater to a variety of uses. Skills, or tools that can be adapted in many different ways.
This is the view of Ira David Socol, who posed the Toolbelt Theory. He reminds us that humans are tool users. We have different tools for different jobs, different tools to suit different ages, and different toolbelts for different wearers/users. We need to provide our students with the appropriate tools for the age that they live in and the purpose they require to use them.
But what if the tools change drastically between now and when our students need to use them? Well then, we will need to teach them how to choose their own tools. Socol's TEST framework teaches how to select or acquire the appropriate tool for the job. Even when our current tools are long rendered obsolete, students will understand what to look for in the right tool to perform unknown future tasks.
This framework is not limited to the tools on hand. It goes beyond the actual tools. Students learn to assess themselves, their environment and the task, variables which will affect their choice of tool or skill. So regardless of how much change they need to deal with in the future, they can still look at the whole situation to determine how best to master it.
Toolbelt theory is a thinking skill. Students need to learn how to think for themselves, for the times when we aren't there to hold their hand, or teach them current best practise anymore. They will need to find the way themselves in order to survive.
And in the dark, mysterious future, they will hopefully have a light to guide them - hanging off their own personally designed toolbelt.