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Change the conversation

Sonya ter Borg is a PYP teacher, currently teaching 5th grade at Riverstone International School in Boise, USA.

Sonya ter Borg, 4th grade teacher at Munich International School, Germany

Grade 4 PYP challenges us to have the right conversations that will push our thinking about the future of education closer to innovation.

“This is today’s gem from Hugh at GapingVoid. Of this image he says:

“If your company is not innovating, it is likely because no one is facilitating the right conversations.”

So what are the right conversations?

Well, one conversation I would like to be having is with practical innovator, Marc Prensky. Marc has been an advocate for innovation in education for some time. His latest conversation embraces the idea of Future Oriented Education. He challenges us to ask ourselves the question: “Is this future-oriented education or is it ‘past-ucation’:

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There is nothing Marc would rather do than change the conversation about the way we educate in schools. His writing on technology, innovation, 21st century learning, digital natives, and the changing teaching paradigm are all priceless – and so worth reading. I started highlighting the points that really resonated with me from the following four articles and was soon swimming in a sea of neon. It is all worth reading. Check out his Global Future Education Advisory Archive.

His thinking about technology really resonates with me.  Read this excerpt from his third GFEA:

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It is not about stuff. It is not about different ways to do what we do now. Technology is an extension of our brains. It is a new way of thinking. And it is a conversation worth having if you hope to lead an innovative school. In the same way that no teacher who dismissed writing or reading or math as “unimportant” or something to be scheduled once a week, would ever get hired, should someone who is not willing to embrace the use of technology as an extension of thinking be given a job as an educator? Is it ok for teachers to say, “That is not for me”. “I am not comfortable with that” and continue with their past-ucation ways?

Today in a problem-solving math class I asked the students if they should be allowed to use laptops and calculators when solving the problems. There was a resounding “No!” and cries of “Cheating!”. Really? Further discussion led to some children conceding that perhaps it would be ok….sometimes….but only for really hard problems. I suggested that in using technology to help solve the problem, they would still be required to think like mathematicians and evaluate the reasonableness of their answer before submitting it. Does it look right?  Does it seem possible? A few more converted.

In thinking about the future of education and where we need to be heading, it is pretty clear that what we do need to keep doing is having conversations that push us closer to innovation. If a one-woman schoolhouse that is actually a boat equipped with solar panels to juice up the internet floating from house to house to pick up students and bobble around teaching them all day on water can move ahead from ‘how things were done’, why cannot we?”

The original article can be found in Sonya’s blog here.

Sonya is a PYP workshop leader and has taught in PYP schools in all three regions of the IB as a classroom teacher, coordinator, and art teacher. Next year, she will be the Junior School Learning Technologies Teacher, working with teachers and students to integrate technology into the curriculum. Sonya is passionate about moving education forward, innovation and sharing of best practice. She blogs at



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