The Times They Are a Changin (Dylan, 1964)

I am not really a Bob Dylan fan, much to my husband’s disappointment.  However, on this point, the point about how fast the times are changing, I think Bob Dylan is bang on. Even if it is almost 60 years since he wrote those lyrics.

I spend a great deal of time helping teachers CHANGE their thinking about pedagogy, and I enjoy doing that a great deal.  However, I feel we need to up the ante somewhat.  We are not changing fast enough–because everything around us is changing at a faster rate!

For many years, centuries even, we have ‘enjoyed’ traditional formal school settings that were designed to meet the needs of the agricultural and industrial age of the time. This new age, the Information age, is definitely different from the Industrial age. During the Industrial Age, changes in technology occurred at a slow pace. Fluorescent lighting took 82 years from invention to production; television took 29 years to develop; the ballpoint pen took 50 years; the zipper, 32 years (Burris, 1997). But during the Information Age, the speed of change has escalated. For example, in the music industry alone we have seen vinyl records replaced by CDs within 5 years of being introduced (Burris, 1997).

There is truth in the cliché, “the times they are a changing”…but changing even faster now.

So where does that leave education?

Cecilia Loretta McKay, my husband's grandmother, with her class in Coniston circa 1910

Cecilia Loretta McKay, my husband’s grandmother, with her class in Coniston circa 1910

Well, we don’t really need “know-how/know-what” knowledge like we once did ; it is easy to get that from google. We need to teach our kids to think and figure out for themselves what they should do ( Students need different skill sets and different attitudes than those that were necessary in the 20th century.  The 20th century was about the 3 Rs; the 21st century is about so much more. New skills such as: leadership; digital literacy; communication; emotional intelligence; entrepreneurship; global citizenship; problem solving; team working ( are now necessary.  It will be tough for teachers to learn and understand these skills, and even tougher to weave them into their daily practice.

So teachers, if you are comfortable in your practice and thinking that you can continue to do things in pretty much the same way you always have been, then think again.  Challenge your beliefs; challenge your thinking; change your practice. You need to ‘develop’ at a faster pace.  Compare your development to a smartphone rather than the zipper, or the television.

A whole generation of kids needs you to do just that.



Burris, D. & R. Gittines. (1997). Technotrends: How to use technology to go beyond your competition. New York: HarperBusiness.


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