4 years ago, 4 years from now

February 29 is here and it is Leap Day. We haven’t had a 2/29 since 2008 and it won’t happen again until 2016. This is likely an obvious fact to all of you who read my thoughts here, but it’s a writing prompt we are giving to our students at school this week and I thought it would be fun to do myself. Our specific prompt was, “What were you doing in February 2008, and what do you think you will be doing in February of 2016?”

Investigating my 2008 presence was interesting. From memory I know I was working in my same professional position, living in the same house, with the same wife (good thing for me, not sure that’s a positive for her), and my kids were ages 5 and 2. I couldn’t think of any momentous occasions or problems. I probably needed a haircut and a shave. I know that I was starting to become aware of some Senator from Illinois running for President and wasn’t sure if he could compete with my polcrush at the time, Hillary Clinton.

Drawing by my son title "Aliens and Robots" 2/24/08

Going further than my memory would accord, I looked at my journal and found that it had been a typical February. The flu bug wiped out a few members of the house and we enjoyed skiing at Mt. La Crosse. Also read that we took a snowshoeing hike along one of the local trout streams I like to visit in the spring and summer. My son had been busy over the weekend getting ready for his kindergarten class as he was going to be the “king bee” when he returned to school.

Thanks to Facebook’s Timeline feature, I could pinpoint my FB presence and see my exact activities. I sure hope that anthropologists and historians of the future don’t solely judge our era by what survives from Facebook, at least from my page anyway.

I was only a few months into having a FB account and was adding lots of friends and sharing such witty status updates as “Curt Rees is superbad” and “Curt Rees wants grilled cheese.” I’ve always had suspicions of my digital idiocy, and Facebook from February of 2008 just changed those suspicions to truths. Yes, I’m hard on myself because by the time I hear a criticism from someone else, I’ve already had that same conversation with myself.

So what do I think life will be like for me in February of 2016? My kids will be in 8th and 4th grade and I certainly hope they’ll be as happy, healthy, and feisty as they are right now. Dear wife will likely have written a book on some parenting or health topic and will still be goading me to eat better and exercise more. I’ll probably need to shave and get a haircut. Hopefully President Obama will be winding down his last term as President and my dear Hillary will be gearing up for her turn as POTUS. Professionally, I sure hope to be working in my fine school district with my fab staff and colleagues. I hope that I’ll be on the downhill side of coursework in my doctoral program and my dissertation will be shaping up well. That dissertation topic will be about the effect that leadership attitudes and knowledge have on the overall implementation and effective use of technology and connected learning within their schools. (The 2012 me has only just applied to a doctoral program and am waiting to hear back about acceptance.)

In 2016 I hope this current phase of teacher bashing and absurd accountability has ended. I hope that school funding has been restored to workable levels and educators have helped to realize the changes that are needed to meet the needs of all kids and families. The uniform school day schedule and school year calendar are a thing of the past and learning is something that occurs in a variety of locations, in a variety of times, and from a variety of teachers (both local and distant). We won’t be playing the testing game and coaching a cadre of proficient bubble fillers (no matter what format the test takes on). Educators truly focus on “what’s best for kids” and pay close attention to student learning as the gauge for the effect of their teaching. Kids, teachers, and parents will all work together to satisfy their own curiosities about the world. They’ll create projects that demonstrate their new knowledge and those projects will be of use to other learners and educators. Hopefully some progress has been made in our society (not just left up to schools) to help close the gaps among students of different socioeconomic statuses.

I’m not expecting the education world to be reformed to a wonderful era of sunshine and puppy kisses, but I do expect that we will have avoided a not too far-fetched dystopian world where teachers, schools, and students are branded with oversimplified numeric values that supposedly represent the totality of their worth. On the evolution to revolution scale, I hope these ed changes fall in the 6 out of 10 scores. We need changes in education (and I specifically don’t say schools here) and I think the conditions are right for good things to happen in these next few years.

Thanks for reading this.

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