“Class of 2010, this is a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history,” Obama said. “We can’t stop these changes, but we can channel them, we can shape them, we can adapt to them. And education is what can allow us to do so. It can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time.”
In other words, education is what will help today’s graduates effectively navigate the flood of digital media now at their fingertips.
Obama’s speech holds an important lesson for schools: Investing in new technologies won’t make a (mega)bit of difference unless students learn how to harness these tools for a deeper understanding of their world.
Savvy educators, like Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling, already know this. Wessling uses technology to make her lessons engaging—but she also teaches students to be “life-long learners and genuine thinkers.” (See “Teacher of the Year: Education ‘must be learner-centered.'”)
That means teaching students how to think critically about what they are reading and hearing, so they become smart consumers of information.
Judging by the media firestorm that resulted from the president’s address, it’s a lesson many members of the Fourth Estate could use as well.