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Figuring Out Today's World

Figuring Out Today's World
Caroline Hoffman

Faculty Blog Series

By: Mrs. Terry Lowry, Director of Technology and Curriculum

As Wakefield's Director of eLearning, I enjoy managing our technology initiatives and facilitating the successful

integration of technology and student learning. Along with this, I get asked a lot of questions; probably almost as many as Mrs. Updike is asked each day by our always-inquisitive Junior Kindergarteners. The questions I get usually start with, "Do you know how to...?" And, as I provide answers and assistance, I am often then asked, "How do you know all this?"

The reality is, I don't "know all this." The world of technology changes too rapidly and is composed of too many intricacies and processes to concretely know how to do everything. Instead, I often figure it out as I go along. I have even joked that my title should be "Head Figure-it-Outer" because that is really what I do every day.

This is not intended to make light of the skills that being a "figure-it-outer" requires. In fact, in our eighth grade Creative Arts Technology rotation, we introduce students to the world of Computer Science. During the rotation, the students learn about a specific way of approaching problems called Computational Thinking. While Computational Thinking relates to the world of computer programming, it can actually be applied across most disciplines and even to real-world situations because it involves identifying a problem, breaking it down into manageable pieces, and then designing logical steps to achieve a solution.

In other words, Computational Thinking is about figuring things out.

Similar to technology, today's world as a whole is rapidly changing. To be able to adapt to these changes, our students must learn to be successful "figure-it-outers". While answers to simple questions may be just a Google search away, today's more complex, often evolving, problems require a different set of problem-solving skills. As Alvin Toffler wrote in is book, Future Shock, "Tomorrow's illiterate will not those who can't read; they will be those who have not learned how to learn."** Therefore, as our students seek the challenges along their journey to an extraordinary life, I urge them to accept that the answers to the problems they encounter won't be easily found. But, if they are ready to roll up their sleeves to examine the problems, dissecting them and coming up with reasonable, step-by-step solutions, while also understanding that learning occurs even in the face of failure, they will ultimately find the journey immensely rewarding.

**While this quote is generally attributed to Toffler, the original source may have been psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy whom the author interviewed for the book.