Nostalgia isn’t a strategy or a skill.

Last week I saw a post from George Couros with this picture: 


Great quote.  Completely agree.  Have this idea in mind all the time.  As with a lot of what I see from George, this made me thing about other things.  One of the things I was thinking about was how many suggestions/directions/demands/pieces of legislation educators get regarding what kids need to know and do.  A lot of these things make perfect sense on their own merits.  A concern is that with a full plate of things already for good teachers…what comes off the plate?

Some of the suggestions/directions/demands/pieces of legislation make a lot less sense.  It hit me as to why they don’t make sense.  They are conjured by good people out of a sense of nostalgia.  The good old days.  Boy, if kids would just do what we did, everything would be just fine.  Learning _____________ worked just great for me.  I don’t see why it shouldn’t work for kids nowadays.

Take shorthand, for example.  Shorthand is cool.  Look at this great example.  Learning shorthand sure set a lot of people up for some good learning and work.  I bet if we just had kids learn how to shorthand…..


Kids these days need to learn how to do shorthand.

Here’s the problem.  Probably, kids these days don’t need to learn how to do shorthand.  It will be a good test of blogging to see if the shorthand people come out of the woodwork to tell me how wrong I am on this matter.  

I don’t think nostalgia is a strategy or a skill.  In fact I looked it up.  Here’s what Merriam says about nostalgia.  “A wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.”  I love nostalgia.  It makes me feel warm and happy.  However, it ain’t a reason to have kids learn shorthand.

Lots of people, good people, with good hearts, want kids to learn the stuff they learned when they were kids. Our job is not to prepare kids for our pasts.  Our job is to prepare kids for their futures.  There are lots and lots of reasonable ideas about the skills kids will need for their own lives.  Skills like collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.  Those are good skills that are applicable to all kinds of work and learning.  Those skills are flexible and can be improved.  Those skills stand ready to steady one during rapidly changing times.

So here are some things to help with nostalgia:

Now on we go with our kids’ futures.  It will be fun to see if collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking become sources of nostalgia at some point.

Kids these days!

Author: Jnelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 39 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 8 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years.

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