It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Spring 2015 edition of the New Hampshire Journal of Education. This edition focuses on engaged learning; a focus essential to preparing 21st century learners. Our students are preparing for jobs that have yet to be defined in a global climate of rapidly changing knowledge and technology. In order to be prepared to enter this world, today’s students must be active participants in a learning process that emphasizes collaboration, problem-solving, and innovation. Learning environments must reward curiosity, develop students’ abilities to understand diverse perspectives, and promote sustained efforts in spite of setbacks. Enthusiastic exploration, application of knowledge to new contexts, and the ability to work as a team need to be explicitly reinforced with an emphasis on the development critical thinking vs. rote learning. This kind of learning revolutionizes the classroom and recasts the role of teacher from provider of information to facilitator or guide in the learning process. Participation of all students is foundational to this type of learning. The learning community is strengthened by diverse points of view in which all voices are encouraged, heard, and respected. Engaged learning helps students make connections between the skills they are mastering and real world application of these skills. Students are viewed as members of a community and meaningful connections are made between schoolwork and the community; helping students develop habits of active citizenship.
Collaboration will be necessary to advance this educational agenda. We are tasked with developing a curriculum that meets the needs of all students; preparing them for the demands of college and for careers yet to be imagined. Our state and national accrediting bodies require that we meet this challenge. More importantly, our students need us to succeed in this endeavor as they face an ever changing and increasingly complex world. This is indeed a tall order! The very skills that we are trying to promote in our students are the skills that will make us successful as educators; creativity and innovation; collaboration and attention to diverse perspectives; problem-solving; persistence; and a multidisciplinary application of knowledge.
The New Hampshire Journal of Education brings us together as a community of educators committed to working towards the common goal of invigorating and enhancing the educational experience to help all of our students meet the needs of a tomorrow yet to be defined. Creating and sustaining this type of educational environment is an ongoing and exciting professional journey. I hope you find this edition an inspiring part of your trip.
I look forward to our ongoing work together!
Gail Mears, Dean
College of Education, Health and Human Services
Plymouth State University