“Time is Relative”

20 01 2012

I believe it was Einstein who in his theory of relativity, stated that “Time is Relative”.  While I do not profess to have a vast knowledge of science, and am far from an expert in the actual physics involved, this phase has been making me think about the way we often talk about time.

In 1948, George Orwell imagined the world of the future.  His “distant future” was the year 1984.  

While 1985 seemed like an unimaginable future for George Orwell, it was “the present” for Marty MacFly (A.K.A. Michael J Fox).  When he traveled to his “unimaginable distant future” , it was the year 2015.

For many teachers,  the “21st Century” seems to refer to a futuristic learning environment where students use digital devices to engage, connect, create, communicate.  Educators use the term “21st Century Learning” to refer to cutting edge teaching and learning.  It is thought of as the “new evolution of  instruction”.  However, time is relative.  For most of our students, they were born in the 21st Century.  It is the only time they know.  It is not their future, but instead their present.  The 21st Century began before most of them were even born.  It is not a time to come, but instead is a time that has already come.  

The future of George Orwell, was the present for Marty MacFly.  The 21st Century, may seem like the future for teachers, but it is the present for students. They already connect, engage, create and communicate.  It is our jobs to make their present world a part of their everyday learning.  It is not the future, it is now!

So, although I will not pretend to understand a great mind like Einstein, maybe this is what he meant when he said “time is relative”.  It is relative to each individual, their past, their present and their future.  The 21st Century is now.

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